About the Afya Program

The Afya Program comprises a number rabies control projects supported by MSD Animal Health rabies vaccine donations.

Rabies Free Africa

Rabies Free Africa originally began under the name “Afya Serengeti” Project, which meant “Health for Serengeti” in Swahili. It started as a research project in the Serengeti in 1996. led by Professor Sarah Cleaveland , OBE, BSc, BA, VetMB, PhD, MRCVS, FRSE, FRS. Rabies Free Africa is an established rabies control project that ensures widespread vaccination of domestic dogs around the Serengeti region in order to control rabies in both the surrounding villages and communities and in the protected wildlife in the park itself.2 These rabies control activities are now led by the organization Rabies Free Africa out of Washington State University, represented locally by Dr. Felix Lankester.

The animal to human transmission of rabies is a real threat. Children are particularly vulnerable because they are more likely to encounter domestic dogs and to be bitten more severely and in high-risk areas of the body. 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 mass-vaccination of dogs 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.

Mission Rabies

MSD Animal Health also supports Mission Rabies. This organisation was established in 2013, and operates in Africa, Asia and India. They maintain permanent vaccination teams in India and run education programs to increase awareness of this deadly disease. To learn more about Mission Rabies, including how to support the organization or to volunteer, visit www.missionrabies.com

The Sharon Live On Project was founded in honor of Sharon Jepchumba Korir who was born in 1996 in Eldoret, Kenya. Sharon was bitten by a dog in late December 2004, when she was just 8 years old. She received vaccine from the hospital in Eldoret, but the vaccine was expired and Sharon died a few weeks later. Since 2011 their mission has been to prevent other children from the same fate. MSD Animal Health is proud to donate all Rabies vaccinations to the Sharon Live On Foundation.