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Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Disease (ECTAD) - Viet Nam

Reaching the unreached, Ethnic Minorities in Viet Nam

Involving ethnic minority groups for rabies prevention and elimination


Ethnic minority groups (EMG) in Viet Nam are considered as one of the most vulnerable population groups to rabies accounting for about 41% of total human death cases during the last five years since 2011. Most of them live in remote areas and have limited access to resources and services such as education/ information, vaccines and medical services. Their low awareness about rabies in dogs and humans leads to wrong risk perception and practices toward the fatal but preventable disease. The recent joint FAO-DAH field missions further revealed that no education or outreach activities were held to the group, none of them were fully aware of safety of modern human vaccine, the importance of annual dog vaccination and proper wound washing despite the fact that they all raised dogs for generations and live in rabies high-risk areas.

As an effort to reach the unreached groups, the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Disease (ECTAD) of the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO) of Viet Nam, in partnership with Department of Animal Health within the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), General Department of Preventive Medicine within the Ministry of Health (MOH), has implemented an outreach advocacy and communications campaign to village heads of minority groups in high risk districts in Thai Nguyen and Phu Tho provinces.

“We understand that the village heads have a big influence and are highly respected by their group members. By engaging the leaders in our rabies control efforts, empowering them with up-to-date knowledge on vaccines, and supporting them with better understanding on rabies transmission risks, FAO believes that the they will be able to assist animal and public health officials in spreading rabies preventive messages to their people, contribute to increase dog vaccination in their areas and eventually decrease preventable death in human” said Dr. Pawin Padungtod, Technical Coordinator of ECTAD, FAO Viet Nam.

“What I have learnt today is new and very useful as I now fully understand that dog vaccination is to protect human against rabies not only dogs. I will share with my group about importance of both dog and human vaccines, advise them to go to the doctors instead of herbal treatment” said Ms Ha Thi Nhung from Muong tribe, Yen Lap district, Phu Tho province.

The advocacy and behavior change communications campaign focusing on the EMGs is one of the outreach priorities that FAO ECTAD has been supporting MARD and MOH. This initiative also includes the production of radio spots in ethnic minority languages concerning protective measures against rabies, such as vaccinating your dogs annually, immediately washing your dog bites with soap and clean water for at least 15 minutes, going to a hospital after being exposed to dog bites and scratches and reporting dog bites to your local public and animal health workers. The messages are disseminated nationwide to all the high risk provinces in Viet Nam.