PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- Joint service members and non-organizational volunteers embarked aboard Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) attended a workshop for the control and prevention of rabies, Sept. 14 in support of Continuing Promise 2015 (CP-15).
The One Health Workshop was coordinated by Haitian and international partners and was established to assist the Haitian government in drawing up an integrated, country-wide plan to eliminate canine-mediated rabies, train health workers to deliver community awareness programs and learn diagnostic techniques.
"It is a pleasure to be a part of this campaign," said Capt. Christine Sears, commanding officer of the Medical Treatment Facility aboard Comfort. "We are especially honored to be working together with the Republic of Haiti and all of the friends of Haiti gathered here to advance rabies control efforts and to improve the health security for all of us."
During the workshop, subject matter experts covered topics including vaccinations, dog population management, transmission control, post-exposure human vaccination, education in human care of animals and how to avoid exposure to rabies.
Dr. Michel Chancy, Haiti's Secretary of State for Animal Production, said that offering this knowledge to the people of Haiti benefits the community because they will share it with their neighbors who will then have the ability to help prevent rabies and provide better care for their animals.
"It is our responsibility to make rabies something of the past," said Chancy. "Rabies is a serious disease that has been doing a lot of damage throughout the world. It is estimated that somewhere in the world, every 10 minutes one person dies from rabies."
Haiti is one of the few remaining countries in the Western Hemisphere where there are significant numbers of people dying from rabies. While rabies is 99.9 percent fatal, it is also 100 percent preventable. Effective interventions to prevent and control rabies have existed for decades.
The CP-15 Army veterinary team comprised of two veterinarians, two veterinary technicians and volunteers with the non-governmental organization (NGO) World Vets, attended the workshop to provide their support for the cause.
"Workshops like this are extremely important because this is where knowledge is distributed and spread throughout the community," said Army Spc. Adrianna Maza, a veterinary technician assigned to the Veterinary Treatment Facility at Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall, Va. "Everyone has something different to bring to the table, but we all have the same determination and are ready to make a change in Haiti."
One Health Workshop is scheduled to launch two weeks of dog vaccinations leading up to World Rabies Day on Sept. 28. Those who attended the workshop earned the qualification of rabies subject matter expert, providing them the knowledge to prevent and control rabies around Haiti.
The CP-15 veterinary team has provided veterinary care to animals in Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Colombia, Dominica, the Dominican Republic and Honduras. Currently the CP-15 team is providing care to animals in Haiti during the final mission stop.
Continuing Promise is a U.S. Southern Command-sponsored and U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet-conducted deployment to conduct civil-military operations including humanitarian-civil assistance, subject matter expert exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support and disaster response to partner nations and to show the United States' continued support and commitment to Central and South America and the Caribbean.
For more news from Continuing Promise, visit www.navy.mil/local/cp/.