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Veterinary & Biosecurity

CoVAB Celebrates outgoing staff

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The College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity bade farewell to some of its long serving staff that left university services to take on other responsibilities outside Makerere University.

The event held on Friday 19th January 2024 in Ruth Keesling gardens did not only include the recognition of the contribution of outgoing staff but also formerly welcomed new staff that joined the School of Biosecurity, Biotechnology and Laboratory Sciences (SBLS).

The College HR Godfrey Makubuya represented the Principal CoVAB, Prof. Frank Mwiine. CoVAB farewell for outgoing staff, 19th January 2024, Ruth Keesling Gardens, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The College HR Godfrey Makubuya represented the Principal CoVAB, Prof. Frank Mwiine.

Prof. Frank Nobert Mwiine, the Principal of the College who was represented by the Principal Human Resource Officer Mr. Godfrey Makubuya said he was privileged for having been tutored by a number of staff that were now leaving the college. He said these did their work with uttermost dedication despite the challenges within the operating space then.  He said it was gratifying to note that they are leaving the college to better placement. He urged them to always keep CoVAB at heart even in their new duty stations and that the college doors will be always open to receive them in their respective capacities whenever need arose.

Prof. Mwiine commended the Dean, School of Biosecurity, Biotechnology and Laboratory Sciences (SBLS) Dr. Claire March Mugasa for the gesture of formerly recognizing and sending off colleague staff, most of who were part of SBLS.

Dr. Claire Marc Mugasa, the host makes her remarks.
Dr. Claire Marc Mugasa, the host makes her remarks.

On her part, Dr. Claire Mugasa Marc, the Dean of the School of School of Biosecurity, Biotechnology and Laboratory Sciences (SBLS)said the school organized the event as one way of energizing staff and ushering them into the new year. 

‘We have come together to energize ourselves for the new year’, she said adding that thepeople leaving the college would always be part of Covab. We are commissioning them to the next placement’, she said.  She urged the departing staffto always remember that CoVAB made them what they became and thereforewere duty bound to support it in any way possible.

She encouraged the staff still in service to keep supporting the colleagues in their next call of duty whenever necessary so that they can achieve their mandate, but also seek them out in order to strengthen each other’s output. 
She said although the staff were leaving, they were still partners of CoVAB and that the same principals like collaboration especially with other universities and institutions were still pertinent.

In their remarks, some of the departing staff that graced the send off ceremony expressed their gratitude to Makerere University for being a good employer, nurturing them for a long time and greatly contributing toward becoming responsible citizens.

Prof. Samuel Majalija (R) receives his plaque. CoVAB farewell for outgoing staff, 19th January 2024, Ruth Keesling Gardens, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Prof. Samuel Majalija (R) receives his plaque.

Assoc. Prof. Majalija Samuel one of the departing staff promised continued support to the College specifically the students to benefit from the ongoing research and innovations at his duty station as Head of Research at NARO.

The things we struggle to do here with students have answers in NARO, he said and that he was looking forward to a time when the students would benefit from this kind of collaboration. He extended his appreciation to his mentors and colleagues at CoVAB with whom he interacted during his tenure of office.

Dr. Stephens Kisaka (R) getting his plaque. CoVAB farewell for outgoing staff, 19th January 2024, Ruth Keesling Gardens, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Dr. Stephens Kisaka (R) getting his plaque.

Dr. Stephens Kisaka who also left CoVAB for NARO after an eighteen-year tenure said with his new assignment, there was no way he could not work without CoVAB.  ‘We came to Makerere University to work but we leave with friends and money. Makerere University paid us well and we are all well, the reason why other agencies have identified us to serve, ‘he said.  He pledged continued support to CoVAB whenever a need arose.

Mrs. Muhangi makes remarks on behalf of her husband Dr. Denis Muhangi. CoVAB farewell for outgoing staff, 19th January 2024, Ruth Keesling Gardens, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Mrs. Muhangi makes remarks on behalf of her husband Dr. Denis Muhangi.

On behalf of her husband Dr. Denis Muhangi, the wife Mrs. Muhangi said he left the University as an accomplished person and pledged to keep the University flag high at his new duty station. ‘After 19 years of service, I leave a happy man, Makerere University made me what I am and I will not shame it’, he said, while encouraging bosses to treat subordinates well because some of his bosses now are his former students.  You gave him character and he is a man of integrity as a veterinary pathologist, she observed.

Dr. Paul Ssajakambwe who is also joining NARO said they were leaving CoVAB as a happy lot and that they were going with good memories from the place that nurtured them to the present level.

A handshake with Dr. Paul Sajjakambwe (R) was in order. CoVAB farewell for outgoing staff, 19th January 2024, Ruth Keesling Gardens, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
A handshake with Dr. Paul Sajjakambwe (R) was in order.

While speaking at the same event, the Acting Head of the Biotechnical and Diagnostic Sciences Department Prof. Joseph Erume said he was happy to be part of the college that has transformed many people himself inclusive.  He commended those leaving the College for their great contribution realized for decades and urged them to continue being ambassadors of the college.

Senior staff Assoc. Prof. Jesca Nakavuma (L) and Prof. Joseph Erume (R) graced the event. CoVAB farewell for outgoing staff, 19th January 2024, Ruth Keesling Gardens, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (COVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Senior staff Assoc. Prof. Jesca Nakavuma (L) and Prof. Joseph Erume (R) graced the event.

The new staff that were formally welcomed to the SBLS included Christine Kesiime, Dr. Kalenzi David, and Dr Angwe Martin.

PICTORIAL

Veterinary & Biosecurity

COVAB’s outstanding Researchers recognized during the 74th Graduation Ceremony

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PhD Graduands from CoVAB pose for the camera in the Freedom Square on Day 3 of the 74th Graduation Ceremony. 74th Graduation Ceremony, Day 3, 31st January 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Five of the best researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB) were during the 74th graduation ceremony recognized for their outstanding contribution to the body of knowledge.  They included Dr. Enoch Matovu with 48 publications, Dr. Eddy Wampande with 37, Prof. Denis Byarugaba with 36, Dr. Kato Drago with 33 and Prof. Frank Nobert Mwiine, who is also the Principal CoVAB with 30. These were some of the beneficiaries of the inaugural Makerere University Vice Chancellor’s Research Excellence Awards given to all Colleges and the University Library.

Graduands from CoVAB stand to receive their awards. 74th Graduation Ceremony, Day 3, 31st January 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
Graduands from CoVAB stand to receive their awards.

The graduands that the college presented included 7 Ph.Ds, 58 with Masters Degrees, 212Bachelor Degrees and 5 with Post graduate Diplomas. The PhD Graduands were Agutu Claire, Atim Stella, Driciru Margaret, Kizza Daniel, Mayanja Martin Nsubuga and Othieno Emmanuel.

While making his pronouncement on day three of the 74th graduation ceremony on Wednesday 31st January 2024 when CoVAB presented her students, Prof. Nawangwe noted that with support from various partnerships, the University’s research output in terms of innovations and publications had increased. He said the recognition of outstanding performers in research and publication was based on the highest number of publications between the year 2017 and 2023 according to the Scopus database.  He urged all staff to continue conducting research on national development priorities as well as matters of global interest and publishing their work in high-impact journals so as contribute to the university’s drive to become research-led.

The Principal CoVAB, Prof. Frank Norbert Mwiine presents candidates for the award of PhDs. 74th Graduation Ceremony, Day 3, 31st January 2024, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The Principal CoVAB, Prof. Frank Norbert Mwiine presents candidates for the award of PhDs.

The College was applauded for the increased research output and community outreach initiatives, that not only helped to improve on food security but also support efforts towards combating disease. Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe pointed out that the college was spearheading the development of the anti-Tick Vaccine and that the Trials of this vaccine were on-going in several districts with promising results. He said the College entered into a memorandum of understanding with a private company to produce the vaccine commercially. He however noted that there were attempts to frustrate this project which is one of the Presidential initiatives and pledged to undertake further investigations and inform the appropriate authority accordingly.

Research, Innovation and Outreach.

In the area of research, Prof. Nawangwe said CoVAB as a College has continued to excel in research and community outreach in a number of Biomedical and Applied research projects with support from the Government of Uganda, through the Science, Technology, and Innovation secretariat, Office of the President.  The college, he said, has been supported to establish a Biomarker discovery and translation research laboratory at COVAB. Under this initiative, Government has procured over twenty-eight (28) pieces of equipment to support the development of point of care diagnostic kits for infectious and non-communicable diseases including cancer. The goal is to translate identified biomarkers into point-of-care diagnostics for both human and veterinary medicine. In addition, the platform supports drug target discovery and elucidation of drug action mechanisms.

Furthermore, the College staff were involved in investigating the genetic markers for tolerance of the tsetse fly transmitted “Nagana” disease by some indigenous cattle, in order to inform programs to raise cattle breeds that can survive and remain productive in tsetse infested areas. This is complemented by an EU funded “COMBAT” project that aims to evaluate the socioeconomic burden of Nagana, identify and type the circulating trypanosome parasites, as well as determining biochemical and immunological markers for disease tolerance, towards progressive control and elimination of this animal disease as a major constraint to animal productivity and economic prosperity.

The Leadership of CoVAB and University officials prepare to take part in the Academic Procession. 74th Graduation Ceremony, Day 3, 31st January 2024, Frank Kalimuzo Central Teaching Facility, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.
The Leadership of CoVAB and University officials prepare to take part in the Academic Procession.

Improved Laboratory infrastructure

The Vice chancellor said with support from the Science, Technology and Innovations-Office of the President (STI-OP), CoVAB benefited from the laboratory infrastructure and technical capacity improvement. A Central Laboratory Animal Research Facility to support pre-clinical studies in animal models for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics was set up. This is alongside refurbished laboratories at Biosafety Levels 2 and 3 (BSL2, BSL3), fitted with state-of-the-art equipment to execute cutting edge basic and applied research.

Using COVID-19 as a model, the college was in advanced stages of development and production of 1 vaccine and 1 diagnostic, while ably supporting similar endeavors by other partners such as UVRI. Noteworthy was that the established infrastructure and research platforms can be applied to all diseases. This, he said, strategically places the college and Makerere at large in position to confront major animal and even human health challenges as significant proportions of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases are of animal origin (Zoonotic).

Electronic Rabies Surveillance using a One Health Approach

In the area of combating Rabies in the country and the region, the Vice Chancellor noted that the College with support by the Swiss Government was championing the elimination of Rabies through the use of electronic surveillance.  Rabies, he observed, is a global challenge being a zoonotic disease affecting the entire world more so here in Africa where there is close interaction between the wild animals and the human population.  Using a one health approach, the college with partners that include the University of Zurich is working with graduate fellows and other stakeholders drawn from Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, and Uganda Wild life authority among many others.

The Norbrook Veterinary Academic Excellence Award 2024

While recognizing the contribution by various partners in the realization of the Core mandate of the University, teaching and learning. Prof. Nawangwe mentioned such organizations including Norbrook (U) Ltd, who since 2021 continue to prize the best performing Veterinary students with cash prizes of Fifteen Million (15) Shillings annually. ‘We are gratified to note that these Veterinary excellence awards that were launched as part of the golden jubilee celebration of veterinary education in Uganda since the opening of the faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Uganda in 1971, are still on and running’, he said, while congratulating Norbrook (U) Ltd, the University and CoVAB management and the recipients of the award during this 74th Graduation ceremony namely; Kawuma Denis who scored a CGPA of 4.36, Kyomukama Baker Raymond who scored a CGPA of 4.25, and Atutambire Jonathan who scored a CGPA of 4.17.

Appreciation of Government Support

Nawangwe pointed out that it would not be possible for Makerere University to realize all these achievements had it not been for the unwavering support of the Visitor, the Minister, Parliament and the entire Government.  He conveyed his appreciation to the President and the entire Government for the continued support to Makerere University, especially the support to staff welfare and the Research and Innovation Fund. ‘We once again pledge our commitment to serving our country with maximum dedication through training of highly skilled human resource, research for development and support to Government programs including the Parish Development Model and measures aimed at achieving the Sustained Development Goals’, he committed.

A Word to the Graduands

The Vice Chancellor, while addressing himself to the graduands said Graduation Day was the most important and most memorable day in the life of any scholar. It is not only a license to succeed in life, but also a license and a privilege to serve humanity. ‘You have worked hard to get a degree or diploma from one of the best universities in the World. This is a license for you to succeed in whatever you choose to do in your life career. But always remember that success will only come with discipline and hard work, while honoring your parents and fearing God’.

The Awards

Later in the evening, the best researchers from the college, and the best graduands received their certificates and cash prizes respectively during a luncheon organized by Makerere University Convocation, presided over by Dr. Joseph Muvawala, Executive Director, National Planning Authority. The event, the first of its kind was held under the theme ‘Career Beyond Degrees’.

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Veterinary & Biosecurity

PhD & Masters Scholarship Opportunities: ADAPT Project

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PhD Graduands from CoVAB, Dr. Pellegrine Sebulime (L) and Dr. Namayanja Monica (R). Day 3, 72nd Graduation Ceremony, 25th May 2022, Freedom Square, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda, East Africa.

Makerere University with six other African Institutions and two German Institutions has received support from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) under the program on Research Networks for in Health Innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa (RHISSA African One Health Network for Disease Prevention (ADAPT) project is aimed at building a One Health Research and Capacity Building for sustainable stewardship of Antimicrobials through Post-doctoral, PhD and Msc training as well as several capacity building workshops.

Under ADAPT project, Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity is therefore seeking to one PhD and two Masters fellows who will contribute to several tasks within a research and Capacity building work packages. Applicants should have high motivation for postgraduate studies and will have to enroll or should be enrolled in one of the postgraduate programs tenable in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity. The positions are full-time and successful applicants will be expected to avail themselves fully for the duration of the fellowship. The successful fellows will receive financial support to cover tuition, research expenses and stipend.The duration of the fellowship is 24 months for the Msc and 48 months for the PhD.

ELIGIBILITY FOR THE PHD FELLOWSHIP

  1. Possess a good first degree in Veterinary Medicine or Biomedical Laboratory Technology from a recognized University.
  2. A Master’s degree in Molecular Biology, Veterinary Medicine, Microbiology or Animal Health.
  3. Evidence of having worked in a multidisciplinary team with people from the back rounds of animal, human and environmental sciences.
  4. Show evidence of training and experiences in molecular laboratory diagnosis, gene sequencing and analysis and related bioinformatics competences.
  5. Must have at least one published paper or a manuscript draft in advanced stages to demonstrate capacity to write scientific articles.
  6. The Applicant must not be above 45 years of age.

ELIGIBILITY FOR THE MASTERS FELLOWS:

  1. An honours degree or equivalent in Veterinary Medicine, Biomedical Laboratory Technology, Animal Production from a recognized university
  2. Admission to any of the programs with a strong linkage to one Health.

SELECTION CRITERIA

  • Academic ability,
  • Good communication skills,
  • Passion for graduate studies,
  • A good concept note for the PhD.
  • Relevance of the training to one’s current work or future career goals.
  • Commitment to devote time for full-time study.

APPLICATION PROCESS

Applicants should send their applications via Email to: Ugandacovab@adaptonehealth.net and copy to
rea_maja.kobialka@vetmed.uni-leipzig.de and jbokuni@gmail.com .

The Application should be within a single PDF file containing the following documents in their respective order: Handwritten application letter, Curriculum vitae, Bachelor’s degree transcript, Master’s degree transcript, certificates. For the PhD fellowship, applicants should submit a 3 page research concept for a PhD around the key words: One health, AMR,
molecular surveillance and fingerprinting of E coli and salmonella.

Each applicant needs to be supported by two referees’ letters which must be sent directly on the above Emails.

Female applicants are highly encouraged.

For further information, please contact: Dr. Okuni Julius Boniface at jbokuni@gmail.com

Deadline for application: 15th January 2024 at 23:59 EAT.

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Stakeholders to take on Electronic Rabies Surveillance using a One Health Approach in the control of Rabies

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Stakeholders pose for a group photo at the Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University. Kampala, Uganda, East Africa.

Stakeholders in the Rabies Elimination project in Uganda (eRabies) have intensified efforts aimed at the use of electronic Rabies Surveillance using a One Health approach in the efforts towards elimination of rabies in Uganda.

A two-day workshop was convened at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University from 28th-29th August 2023, during which the stakeholders deliberated on a number of proposals for the best applicable surveillance tools to address One Health concerns in the effort towards the elimination of Rabies.

Prof. Clovice Kankya, Head of Department, Biosecurity, Ecosystems and Veterinary Public Health at CoVAB. Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. East Africa.
Prof. Clovice Kankya, Head of Department, Biosecurity, Ecosystems and Veterinary Public Health at CoVAB.

‘The purpose of the meeting is to hear from various actors and see what works for us, to enable us collect information and have it shared in a sustained way with One Health as a key component’ said Prof. Clovice Kankya, the Head, Department of Biosecurity, Ecosystems and Veterinary Public Health at CoVAB, at the start of the meeting held in the Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health.

Kankya noted that with one year of implementation to date, the eRabies project was progressing well drawing a lot of support from the implementing local Governments of Kyegegwa, Soroti and Kampala Capital City Authority that spearhead the community engagements and other related activities. He said the graduate fellows from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries supported by the project were also on schedule.

He said Rabies is a global challenge being a zoonotic disease affecting the entire world more so here in Africa where there is close interaction between the wild animals and the human population.  The Uganda Wildlife Authority, he said, was brought on board specifically Queen Elizabeth National Park to address some of the challenges affecting people drawing from the wild animals.

Prof. James Acai-Okwee, Deputy Principal CoVAB officiated at the opening. Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. East Africa.
Prof. James Acai-Okwee, Deputy Principal CoVAB officiated at the opening.

The Deputy Principal CoVAB, Prof. James Acai Okwee, in his opening remarks noted through the eRabies project, Makerere University and the host CoVAB were consolidating efforts towards the control of rabies in Uganda. ‘In as much as Rabies is a killer 100%, it is also preventable 100%’ observed Prof. Acai, adding that Makerere University and CoVAB specifically have been involved in such efforts through filed activities, vaccinations and animal welfare programs aimed at the control of rabies.  He said through research, such efforts were to be intensified from a scientifically informed point of view.

Prof. Sonja Hartnack, from the Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich gives the background to the project. Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. East Africa.
Prof. Sonja Hartnack, from the Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich gives the background to the project.

Prof. Sonja Hartnack, from the Vetsuisse Faculty, University of Zurich, one of the partners gave an overview of the project.  She said the four-year project has seven different work packages while emphasizing that presently, the stakeholders were addressing work package one, that entails Surveillance systems and integrated bite case management.  She noted that the communities were crucial in the rabies control efforts and specifically in identifying the barriers for rabies control through research interventions and the development of educational materials for awareness creation.

She made reference to the World organization for Animal Health (WOAH) recommended practices that points out that dog owners are clearly identified as one way through which the barriers to dog vaccination can be addressed in the communities and emphasized responsible dog ownership.

Participants engage in group work. Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. East Africa.
Participants engage in group work.

She said it was important to assess which vaccinations approaches are most successful in terms of vaccination coverage, whether there were static points vaccinations, or linked to institutions like Schools or other Veterinary activities or even human health related activities. She said through quantitative and qualitative research, the eRabies project was set to establish what works.  She also pointed out the need to increase the laboratory capacity at regional levels as well as taking on rapid tests in the field.

Prof. Sonja Hartnack said the deliberations in the meeting were to inform the efforts towards having an integrated bite case management (IBCM) system by looking at different systems, picking out key data elements, reviewing the challenges of the existing processes for a proper One Health approach.

Dr.  Andrew Kambugu, Director, Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) affirms IDI’s support to the project. Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. East Africa.
Dr. Andrew Kambugu, Director, Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) affirms IDI’s support to the project.

Dr.  Andrew Kambugu, Director, Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) one of the key partners in the eRabies project extended appreciation to the Swiss Government and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) for the grant that is supporting the implementation of the activities.  He referred to COVID-19, a Zoonotic disease that affected many people as having come from the contact between animals and humans.  He said the model that would come out of the meeting was to be relevant to many.  He emphasized the need for increased collaboration between different agencies in Africa, where he noted that many were working in silos.  He affirmed that IDI was to give all relevant support needed in the eRabies project.

The deliberations in the workshop shared experiences from varied stakeholders that included the Infectious Diseases Institute experiences of Rabies Surveillance in West Nile region, the respective implementing Local Governments, Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries.

Group work presentations by participants. Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. East Africa.
Group work presentations by participants.

Participants identified some of the challenges experienced in timely dog bites reporting that need to be addressed in the surveillance.  They included late reporting by the victims, failure to capture data from the private Veterinary Medicine practitioners that handle a number of cases in the communities, omission of the wildlife Veterinarians in the reporting system and the little interaction between the Human Health practitioners and the Veterinarians, coupled with the limited data sharing avenues.

Participants in a plenary session. Centre for Biosecurity and Global Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. East Africa.
Participants in a plenary session.

The eRabies project is implemented by Makerere University College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity (CoVAB), Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) in collaboration with the Vetsuisse Faculties, Universities of Bern and Zurich from Switzerland. It is contributing to efforts towards elimination of Rabies by 2030.

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