Two new ‘One Health’ projects are launched to improve human health

A workshop kicked off two new projects—the CGIAR Initiative on Protecting Human Health through a One Health Approach and the ICT4Health project funded by the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs—on 3 August in Hanoi, Vietnam. The two projects will help improve human health by using the interdisciplinary One Health approach.  

Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam Phung Duc Tien opened the workshop emphasizing that ‘the current COVID-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the interconnectedness of people, animals and the environment, requiring that we define and refine strategies encompassing agriculture, environment and health sectors.’ He said that the CGIAR One Health Initiative and ICT4Health project would help stakeholders better understand zoonoses, AMR and food safety in Vietnam and bring solutions not only for Vietnam, but for other countries.

H.E. Dr Phung Duc Tien, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam makes an opening speech at the One Health project kickoff meeting (photo credit: ILRI/Vu Ngoc Dung).

Jimmy Smith, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) director general, opened by laying the groundwork for a shared understanding of the initiative and the project among participants. He said Vietnam and other countries of Southeast Asia face the challenge of increasing human health risks due to the emergence of zoonotic diseases, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and food-borne diseases (FBD). ‘Solving these challenges requires both overcoming institutional barriers to cross-sectoral collaboration and stronger evidence on the importance and cost-effectiveness of incorporating One Health principles into the management of food systems, initiatives that One Health and ICT4Health will embrace’, said Smith.  

Dr Jimmy Smith, Director General, ILRI makes opening speech at the event (photo credit: ILRI/Vu Ngoc Dung).

Zoonoses can cause severe damage to human health, livelihoods and economies and are predicted to occur more often in the future due to intensified livestock production and rapid urbanization. Animal production systems are reservoirs of zoonotic pathogens, which are responsible for 60% of human communicable disease cases. The commonly seen habits of consuming wildlife products in Vietnam and many Asian countries could further spread viruses with a potential pandemic like COVID-19. Another threat is the emergence of AMR. AMR causes 1.2 million deaths annually and is projected to kill 10 million each year by 2050. Two-thirds of global antimicrobial use, the key driver of AMR, is related to livestock production. Like other countries in the region, Vietnam’s livestock and aquaculture sectors exacerbate the situation due to the overuse or misuse of antimicrobials. Besides zoonoses and AMR, foodborne diseases (FBD) are emerging with a toll comparable to that of tuberculosis, malaria and HIV/AIDS.

The CGIAR’s ‘Protecting human health through a One Health approach’ initiative (2022-24), or One Health Initiative, and the ‘Improving human health through sustainable value chains in human-animal-environmental interactions using ICT in Vietnam’ (2022-25), or ICT4Health project, aim to use a One Health approach to ensure a multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral involvement to address the threats posed by zoonotic diseases. Both projects will strengthen the capacities of national partners in surveillance, early detection, emergency response and disease prevention. They will also include policy  recommendations to policymakers. They will benefit human, animal, and environmental health and complement each other to attain their goals.

The CGIAR One Health Initiative is structured under five work packages: (i) zoonoses, (ii) food safety, (iii) antimicrobial resistance, (iv) environment (water and wildlife interfaces), and (v) economics, governance and behaviour.

The ICT4Health have five components: (i) conducting a gap analysis of the current registration of transboundary animal and emerging zoonotic diseases (ii) establishing One Health transboundary animal and emerging zoonotic diseases surveillance working groups (iii) conducting a pilot study for a surveillance and monitoring system using ICT responding to transboundary animal and emerging zoonotic diseases, (iv) deploying tools and methods to improve the surveillance of transboundary animal and emerging zoonotic diseases, and (v) developing strategies to improve agricultural extension services and share equal benefits and rights for women through gender-focused interventions

Participants at the workshop (photo credit: ILRI/Vu Ngoc Dung).

Participants fleshed out the details of the work packages for the two projects and agreed on priority activities for Vietnam, including cross-cutting requirements and implementation plans. They also discussed how all proposed activities interlink and contribute to One Health and ICT4Health outcomes.

The workshop was followed by a structured discussion in the afternoon session featuring various partners that identified collaboration opportunities between the One Health Initiative, ICT4Health and other CGIAR initiatives and bilateral projects.

The workshop was co-hosted by the National Institute of Veterinary Research (NIVR) and ILRI. More than 80 participants who are leaders, project implementers, researchers, collaborative partners from national programs and research institutions, international partners, and the private sector attended the launch.

Read about the event on the official website of MARD and newspapers in Vietnam: