About the Afya Program

Afya Serengeti

Afya Serengeti, which means “Health for Serengeti” in Swahili, started as a research project in the Serengeti in 1997. Led by Sarah Cleaveland, DVM, Afya Serengeti is now a rabies control project that works with local people to ensure widespread vaccination of domestic dogs. In the Serengeti, domestic dogs account for 85% of human exposures.6"

The animal to human transmission of rabies is a real threat. Children in particular are vulnerable to contracting rabies because of their close association with pet dogs. Because the villages of the Serengeti do not have sophisticated medical services or easy access to hospitals, treatment is often lacking and many children die. Prevention through vaccination is therefore the best way to halt the spread of rabies and save lives in these villages.

Village-based vaccination clinics are extremely valuable in an area where domestic dogs serve multiple purposes: security guards, protecting livestock from predators, hunting but also family companions.

The project relies on partners, such as MSD Animal Health (known as Merck Animal Health in the US and Canada), to continue vaccination of dogs year after year with the goal of eventual elimination of the disease.

Afya India

Success in the Serengeti and the desire to eradicate rabies forever has propelled the afya project to India. The Bangalore and Pune regions are hotspots for rabies and experience around 30,000 deaths every year. As in Africa, domestic dogs are the main reservoir for the disease. In three years we have applied knowledge from Africa to achieve promising results in 10 badly affected villages.

Mission Rabies

As well as the Afya Serengeti project MSD Animal Health also supports Mission Rabies. This organisation aims to totally eliminate rabies by 2030. They maintain permanent vaccination teams in India and run education programs. To support Mission Rabies with a donation or as a volunteer, visit www.missionrabies.com