Health authorities warn that there is a risk of an increase in rabies due to the abscence of a proper programme to control the free-roaming dog population in the country.

According to their latest statistics, it has been revealed that more than six million stray dogs are roaming freely around the country, and health authorities pointed out that the programme to perform sterilisation surgery for these dogs has also been crippled.

A large number of dogs are seen roaming freely around the country, including in Colombo and in public places.

Health authorities point out that this situation has now become a serious health and social problem.

The health authorities also point out that although various programmes have been implemented in the past with the aim of controlling rabies and the dog population, the lack of proper implementation of such programmes has led to this situation.

A total of 16 people have died after being bitten by stray dogs last year.

The number of deaths may increase if a scientific programme is not implemented to control this situation properly, the health authorities said.