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ECOnomic development,
ECOsystem MOdifications,
and emerging infectious diseases
Risk Evaluation


The impacts on environment, and health when moving from traditional to more intensive agriculture in Vietnam

Background and rationale

In 2008, the Vietnamese government adopted a Development Strategy for the Livestock Industry in order to reorganise and industrialise livestock production in Vietnam. Production must increase and performances of production must be improved. Therefore, farmers will be pushed to move to more intensive practices of production. The model of industrial farms has been developed for 20 years in the south of the country (especially in Dong Nai province) and regular huge epidemics of FMD, PRRS and problems of environmental pollution showed that this scheme of development is controversial. Additionally, villages “specialized” in pig production are becoming increasingly common in the north of the country (Red River Delta) where the majority of households raise pigs. The pigs are often raised in limited numbers but using more intensive practices. The number of heads in the village can reach thousands, but density in the premises is less than that in industrialized farms. Care is commonly provided directly by owners who are more vigilant and performances are much higher than in traditional systems. However, the villagers live in close contact with animals and bio-security rules are very limited.

It is critical to measure the risks of such pig and poultry production systems because they represent a potentially viable alternative system to industrial farms in order to improve performances of production.
Among the identified risks include transmission of zoonotic diseases and impacts on the environment - especially pollution of the water. Assessment of these parameters will help determine whether this development scheme can maintain an important source of income for several households with limited investment and will also provide recommendations to improve bio-security to subsequently minimize the risk.

Objectives and Strategy of Intervention

At present, data and analysis are not yet available in Vietnam to demonstrate likely impact of such changes to intensive agriculture. Therefore there is a need to evaluate these risks to issue a broad strategy and better protect human health, animal health, and the environment.

Specific objectives are to:

List and describe noticeable health events/diseases in the population and in the livestock that are living in the context of intensive farming compared with traditional rural farming;

Evaluate ecosystem changes - especially the impact on the quality of the water and contami-nation of the environment in both types of production;

Provide recommendations on good agricultural practices and proper bio-security and hygiene practices to reduce health risks in the different contexts.

The project will undertake a field study including:

A longitudinal study of all households and their members in each village will be implemented during one year to gather relevant health events. Each household will complete a daily Household Health Diary which is scrutinized every week by the Field coordinators. Similarly, all farmers will use a Farm Checklist for surveillance on signs of diseases in animals. When these observations meet the case definition for monitored diseases, proper sampling and analysis will be performed;

A cross-sectional study consisting of two serology and bacteriology surveys will be conducted to capture history of exposure to zoonotic disease pathogens which do not display symptoms in animals (i.e. Salmonella, Campylobacter, Leptospira, Hepatitis E and Japanese encephalitis);

An environmental survey will be conducted during the dry and rainy seasons separately, to trace the faecal contamination from the animals (pigs and or poultry) to humans (villagers). E. coli will be used as an indicator and a specific technique using biologic markers will allow for the identification of the origin (swine, poultry or human) of the contamination of fertilizers, irrigation water or edible part of vegetables;

Participatory Rural Appraisal will be organized to evaluate the awareness of villagers on the possible nuisances caused by livestock production inside the villages and to list common practices that put villagers/farmers at risk that is related to their farming work.

Expected results

At the end of the project the NIHE will have improved its capacity to conduct multidisciplinary research in the area of the “One Health” concept.

The study will have provided comparative data about human health, animal health and environment in both traditional and intensive farming zones and will allow for correlating emerging/re-emerging diseases with agricultural techniques.

Practical recommendations will be developed to mitigate risks to health and the cultivate partnership between relevant sectors.

Beneficiaries of ECOMORE project

Epidemiology unit at NIHE will recieve the capacity to manage and monitor the One Health project.

Bacteriology lab of NIHE will be capable to perform innovative techniques to identify sources of environmental contamination by E.Coli.

Provincial and district health authorities will be trained to conduct the extensive longitudinal survey.

MoH and MARD will receive documented data on incidence and prevalence of some zoonotic diseases - especially on Hepatitis E which is not yet scrutinized.

DLP will justify alternative schemes to improve livestock production in North Vietnam (as compared to industrialization of farms).

Farmers will maintain or develop a major source of income if it is proved that using more intensive techniques for livestock production do not have insoluble impact on public health.

Public health care is improved because specific risks for both traditional and more intensive livestock production systems are better identified and simple rules of bio-security and hygiene are practiced.


Implementing Team


Organizations linked with ECOMORE