Formation of the Asian Rabies Control Network (ARACON): A common approach towards a global good

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The drive towards the worldwide elimination of dog-mediated human rabies by 2030 is the first step towards the ultimate goal of dog rabies elimination – as dogs account for more than 99% of human rabies cases globally – and has gained considerable momentum since this resolution was taken at a global meeting in Geneva in December 2015. For dog rabies-endemic countries and regions, dedicated regional networks may offer unique opportunities to take advantage of this global momentum. Towards this goal, the Pan-African Rabies Control Network (PARACON) was created in 2015, and the past year has seen the formation of the Asian Rabies Control Network (ARACON). ARACON provides opportunities for member countries to share lessons learnt and challenges faced, while also introducing them to programmatic support tools such as the Stepwise Approach towards Rabies Elimination (SARE) assessment and the Rabies Epidemiological Bulletin (REB). During the inaugural ARACON meeting, member countries evaluated their progress and developed country-specific Practical Workplans based on their SARE outcomes. The results from the national-level SARE assessments were considered at the regional level and, after discussion among countries, consensual agreement was reached that the target date of regional freedom from dog-mediated human rabies by 2020 was not feasible, and a new regional target of 2030 was set. With this new regional target, ongoing support will continue to be provided to countries through regional structures such as ARACON. However, the responsibility remains with the countries to use the available tools and resources to progress towards the new regional goal of dog-mediated human rabies elimination by 2030.HighlightsThe Asian Rabies Control Network (ARACON) was launched in 2018 with 13 Asian countries attending the inaugural meeting.The Stepwise Approach towards Rabies Elimination tool was used by countries to assess their current rabies control progress.A SARE-based workplan was automatically created with objectives and timelines as a technical document for each country.ARACON now benefits from a new DHIS2-based platform for the collection and analysis of rabies epidemiological data.Based on the SARE outputs, it was agreed that the revised target for regional human rabies elimination will be 2030.

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