Vaccines need to be made available as a matter of life and death in areas affected by rabies in the Eastern Cape. Our communities cannot live in fear of rabid dogs. The Departments of Agriculture and Health must act as a matter of urgency.

The Democratic Alliance is deeply disturbed by the lack of readily available rabies vaccine for humans following the deaths of at least three people in the Willowvale-area in the Eastern Cape since September last year. An unconfirmed report has set the death rate at eleven.

Action must be taken immediately to prevent more people dying a horrific death.

Of the three cases confirmed by the DA the latest death was a young child who succumbed in East London’s Frere hospital last Friday (subs: 10 Jun).

This innocent victim was bitten by a dog in April and went to the local clinic where she was given the first post exposure vaccine. She visited the clinic again after seven days as she should have but there was no vaccine available. She was then referred to the Willowvale Health Centre where vaccine wasn’t available either. She went home. After showing symptoms she was taken to Butterworth Hospital and then to Frere Hospital in East London where she died.

In an age of modern medicine it is unacceptable that even one person is allowed to die from a disease that can be inhibited by proper preventative vaccination campaigns and by having post exposure vaccine available. The fact that animal health technicians and veterinary staff and anyone working in any animal- related industry such as game parks and abattoirs in the Eastern Cape have not received preventative vaccination from the state for the last two years is proof that something is wrong.

I will be asking parliamentary questions to the MECs for Agriculture and Health and I will be requesting them to personally intervene to avert further unnecessary deaths of innocent victims.