Vietnam’s economy and population are growing rapidly. Production and consumption of animal products are increasing even faster. To manage pig diseases and increase meat production, farmers are turning to antibiotics and other antimicrobials, creating a hotbed for zoonotic diseases and resistance to antibiotic drugs.
Research has linked heavy use of veterinary antibiotics to a rise of antibiotic resistance in humans, in part through contaminated food products. WHO regards antibiotic resistance as one of the most important threats to human health because diminished effectiveness of antibiotic treatments. Tainted food also threatens consumer trust and the long-term health of the pig industry.
At present much is unknown about the scale and the drivers of the problem. Early sampling studies have found alarming rates of antibiotics use, antibiotic resistance in pigs and antibiotic drug residues in pork, but firm data is lacking.
Even less is known about the drivers of antibiotic use at the farm level. We do not know how farmers perceive risks and benefits of antibiotic use, on which information they act, or how information, regulation and stakeholder interaction could foster more prudent antibiotic use practices. However, it is clear that Vietnam needs effective, evidence-based intervention strategies to reduce antibiotic use in its pig industry, tailored to local circumstances and stakeholders.
The VIDA-PIG project will help fill these gaps. It will use established ‘One Health’ approaches to map the many drivers of antibiotics use and antibiotic resistance across the Vietnamese pig value chain. It will collect baseline data, set up local stakeholder networks, garner insight into stakeholders’ knowledge and rationale and do small-scale testing of a newly designed intervention.
Project outcomes will be used to design and test larger, well targeted interventions aimed at reducing antibiotic resistance risks for Vietnamese consumers, patients and farmers.
VIDA-PIG has established good working relations with pig farmers and key government authorities in Vietnam, including in Bac Ninh province. Most field work to collect data on pig health management practices and veterinary drug use among pig farmers have been completed successfully. Microbiological analyses for antimicrobial resistance in pigs and humans are well under way and pig feed samples have been collected for Salmonella, mycotoxin and antimicrobial residue analyses. Three MSc students have completed their thesis work and addiotional BSc, MSc, and PhD thesis students are undertaking their research in the project. Research results have been communicated in the international literature and on the project homepage; Facebook fan group page and in various electronic media.
Dialogue and coordination of mutual benefits have been established with the Strategic Sector Cooperation partners including the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration.