KENILWORTH, N.J., Nov. 2 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Schering-Plough Corporation (NYSE: SGP) today announced it has initiated sponsorship of two projects in India to reduce the incidence of human and animal rabies through improved educational awareness and mass vaccination of dogs. The company will donate $200,000 and rabies vaccine from Intervet/Schering-Plough as well as share expertise with partners to support successful implementation of the projects in ten villages surrounding Bangalore and Pune, India.
"Our company has a commitment to reducing the prevalence of rabies in vulnerable places around the world, and these new initiatives in India demonstrate continuing support of eradication efforts," said Schering-Plough Chairman and CEO Fred Hassan. "As with the Afya Serengeti project that Schering-Plough supports in Africa, educating people about rabies and how to prevent it is the most effective weapon against the disease."
Using the "Adopt a Village" concept, education about rabies prevention and treatment will be aimed at the entire community and adapted for everyone from small children to adults and village leaders. With guidance from the nonprofit Global Alliance for Rabies Control, the programs will involve medical and veterinary professors, experts in the field of rabies along with medical students from area universities. Special accommodations will be made to educate people in their own dialects, with sensitivity to their customs.
"Our goal is to provide a sustainable solution for communities in developing countries to prevent rabies that takes into account how people interact with community dogs and other animals in their environment," said Deborah J. Briggs Ph.D., executive director, Global Alliance for Rabies Control. "Rabies remains a neglected disease of the poor and disenfranchised, and we believe projects such as these being developed in India will serve as models that can be replicated in other vulnerable areas. The grim truth is that every day more than 150 people die of rabies. More than 100 of them are children and every one of the deaths should have been prevented."
Separate but similar projects will be implemented in two geographic areas of India. The Global Alliance for Rabies Control will supervise projects in four selected villages outside the city of Bangalore: Ramohally, Hulluvenahally, Chandrappa circle and Prasanachari palya. The Alliance will partner with a number of India-based groups to ensure maximum impact. Partners from India include the Rabies in Asia Foundation; the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS); Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) and the Veterinary College, Bangalore. The Alliance will also develop educational materials for teaching children worldwide about rabies prevention.
The Bombay Veterinary College, Mumbai, will take the lead role for projects in six major villages in Pune district, namely Narayangaon, Khodad, Arvi Pimpalgaon, Yedgaon, Alephata and Vadgaon Anand. The college will be supported by K.N.P. College of Veterinary Science, Shirval, and Karuna Animal Health Foundation, Narayangaon. Intervet India, the Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health business located in the Pune region, will be contributing technical support for the project as an extension of its current rabies prevention efforts.
Rural Indian villages are especially vulnerable to rabies, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). India reports the highest incidence of human rabies accounting for an estimated 20,000 of the 55,000 deaths reported worldwide each year. Three-quarters of the deaths in India occur in rural areas with the highest rates among the poor, particularly children under the age of 15.
The new programs in India will start with surveys to learn how well rabies prevention is understood in the selected villages and to assess the status of rabies among the villages' dog and other animal populations. Researchers will also track the numbers of reported cases and human and animal deaths due to the disease. The next phase of the program will involve massive campaigns of public education, focusing on effective rabies prevention practices for humans and animals as well as appropriate treatment after exposure to the disease.
Education is urgently needed because WHO research shows most deaths occur when people bitten by, or exposed to, a rabid animal do not seek or receive appropriate treatment. In most countries where canine rabies is prevalent, victims of dog bites lack understanding of the importance of seeking appropriate medical treatment from a qualified health facility. Proper wound cleansing and immunizations, done as soon as possible after contact with a suspect animal, can prevent the onset of rabies in virtually 100 percent of exposures, the WHO has found. If left untreated, the fatality rate after rabies infection is 100 percent.
The education campaigns will draw attention to the importance of vaccinating community dogs. Improving community understanding of the life-saving value of administering canine vaccines is crucial; the WHO has determined that the most cost-effective strategy for preventing rabies in people is to eliminate rabies in dogs through animal vaccinations. This will especially benefit children, who typically have closer contact with dogs than adults and are less inclined to report injuries sustained from playing or other interaction with the animals.
The final phase of the Indian projects will involve a comprehensive evaluation of whether the education and vaccination efforts produced measurable improvements in the incidence of rabies in people, dogs and other animals.
Schering-Plough is an innovation-driven, science-centered global health care company. Through its own biopharmaceutical research and collaborations with partners, Schering-Plough creates therapies that help save and improve lives around the world. The company applies its research-and-development platform to human prescription, animal health and consumer health care products. Schering-Plough's vision is to "Earn Trust, Every Day" with the doctors, patients, customers and other stakeholders served by its colleagues around the world. The company is based in Kenilworth, N.J., and its Web site is www.schering-plough.com.
Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health is a leader in research and dedicated to the development, production and marketing of innovative, high-quality animal-health products for all major farm and companion animal species. For more information about Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health visit: www.intervet.com and www.intervetusa.com.
About the Global Alliance for Rabies Control
The Global Alliance for Rabies Control is the foremost non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating rabies throughout the world. The mission of the Alliance is to promote rabies awareness and control. The organization contributes to support rabies control programs and educational initiatives.
The Global Alliance for Rabies and Control was established to bring together public and private expertise in the field of rabies, including medical, veterinary, wildlife and animal welfare agencies, to utilize a 'one medicine' approach to establish rabies prevention programs. The Alliance coordinates the World Rabies Day campaign and works alongside its partner institutions and organizations. (www.rabiescontrol.net)
SCHERING-PLOUGH DISCLOSURE NOTICE: The information in this press release includes certain "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements related to expectations or forecasts of future events. Schering-Plough does not assume the obligation to update any forward-looking statement. Many factors could cause actual results to differ materially from Schering-Plough's forward-looking statements, including market forces, economic factors, product availability, patent and other intellectual property protection, current and future branded, generic or over-the-counter competition, the regulatory process, and any developments following regulatory approval, among other uncertainties. For further details about these and other factors that may impact the forward-looking statements, see Schering-Plough's Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including Part II, Item 1A "Risk Factors" in the Company's third Quarter 2009 10-Q, filed October 29, 2009.
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