FAO in Viet Nam

Viet Nam: Together and Stronger against antimicrobial resistance


HANOI, 28 NOVEMBER 2016 – The second National Antibiotics Awareness Week in Viet Nam highlights the continued high level commitment of the government against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Running under the theme: Together and Stronger against AMR, the campaign brings together various sectors: health, agriculture, industry and trade, environment and natural resources, academia, local governments, communities and the public. Across the country pledges are made to use antibiotics responsibly and protect one of the most precious innovations in modern medicine.

The threat of antibiotic resistance

The discovery of antibiotics almost ninety years ago changed the course of modern medicine, giving doctors the ability to treat previously fatal infections. Millions of lives have been saved as a result. However, antibiotics have increasingly lost their effectiveness due to antimicrobial resistance. The phenomenon of antibiotic resistance threatens the health and lives of the people in Viet Nam, the environment, as well as the sustainability of food and agriculture production systems.

In recent years, Viet Nam has witnessed a growing threat of antimicrobial resistance, brought about by the excessive and irrational use of antibiotics at all levels of the health care system and the public as a whole. It is difficult to quantify the magnitude of the problem, due to a lack of adequate surveillance systems, but some estimate that by 2050 antimicrobial resistance could be responsible for killing 10 million people a year globally, the equivalent of 1 person every 3 seconds - more than cancer kills today.

Without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections illnesses of humans and animals become much harder to treat. Common surgeries become much more dangerous and untreated infections lead to longer hospital stays, higher medical costs, and increased mortality.

“Antibiotic resistance can affect anyone, of any age, in any country. It is conceivable that in a few decades, treatments such as chemotherapy for cancer and simple surgery will become impossible because they rely on antibiotics to protect patients from infection. We are facing a future where a cough or cut could kill once again,” explained Dr Lokky Wai, WHO Representative in Viet Nam.
Resistance to antibiotics is also a food safety problem. Antibiotics are used in animals not only for treatment, but also for disease prevention and growth promotion and the development of antimicrobial resistance in animals can be passed to humans though the food chain.
“AMR is a problem not just in our hospitals, but on our farms and in our food, too. Farmers and veterinarian must share responsibility, both by using antimicrobials more responsibly and by cutting down on the need to use them, by effectively applying biosecurity and good farming practices” stated by Mr. JongHa Bae, The Representative Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Viet Nam.

Viet Nam recognizes the seriousness of the issue and is taking action

In 2013, Viet Nam has passed the National Action Plan on AMR, the first country in WHO’s Western Pacific Region to do so. Since then comprehensive, multidimensional systems and capacity building were undertaken or introduced in Viet Nam to combat AMR. These include among others: the National Surveillance System for AMR; surveillance for antibiotic use and consumption; National Antibiotic Stewardship Programme; Quality and post marketing surveillance and strengthening of regulations for antibiotic registration, distribution, sale and marketing.

In 2015, the government forged wider action across the ministries of health, agriculture, environment, trade and industry, and those Ministries signed the Aide Memoire for Inter-sectoral Action against AMR. To ensure oversight of the actions under the Aide Memoire, the government has set-up the National Steering Committee against AMR represented at high level from the four sectors.

UN Takes Action

In September 2016, the UN General Assembly convened a high-level meeting at the UN Headquarters in New York on “Antimicrobial Resistance“, with the participation of Member States, non-governmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and academic institutions. At that meeting UN Member States, including Viet Nam, committed to taking a broad, coordinated approach to address the root causes of AMR across multiple sectors, especially human health, animal health and agriculture. This is only the fourth time a health issue has been taken up by the UN General Assembly. The others were HIV, non-communicable diseases, and Ebola.
In 2015, the World Health Assembly adopted a global action plan to tackle the growing problem of resistance to antibiotics. One of the key objectives of the plan is to improve awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance through effective communication, education and training. In line with this global action plan, Viet Nam is organizing the National Antibiotics Awareness Week since 2015.

Serious threat to health - and joint efforts to stop it

The observance of the National Antibiotics Awareness Week this year, highlights the need for a concerted action by everyone, and thus the theme, Together and Stronger Against AMR.
The campaign raises awareness on the effects of AMR against the health of the people, the sustainability of its food production and agriculture, the impact to the environment and most importantly the impact of AMR on the country’s sustainable development.
As part of the National Antibiotic Awareness Week, Viet Nam aims to collect a total of one million pledges to use antibiotics responsible. The goal of one million pledges builds on a total of over 400,000 pledges collected during the first National Antibiotic Awareness Week in 2015. A national campaign event will also be held at Ly Thai To square in the heart of the capital city of Hanoi on the 30th of November followed by a series of lectures for students and professionals later on in December.

The National Antibiotics Awareness Week is one of many activities in an ever stronger response of Viet Nam to the threat of AMR.

“We applaud the four key Ministries for coming together and jointly support the National Antibiotics Awareness Week. We fully believe that this multi-sectoral approach across both human health and animal health is critical for taking concerted effort to effectively tackle AMR. Given the multi-sectoral nature of AMR, everyone has a key role to play in tackling antibiotic resistance. Action is needed on the part of human medicine (doctors, nurses, pharmacists, patients), animal medicine (veterinarians, farmers, the animal health medicine and food industry), the pharmaceutical industry and the general public,” co-stated by both Mr. JongHa Bae and Dr. Lokky Wai.

For further information, please contact:
Ms Tran Thi Loan
WHO Communications Assistant
Email: [email protected]

Ms Nguyen Thuy Hang
FAO Advocacy and Communications Coordinator
Email: [email protected]