Butchers of Hmong black pig meat in Northwest Vietnam

Hmong butchers selling pig meat from the indigenous Hmong black pig, recognizable from its thick layer of fat below the skin, Bac Ha, Lao Cai Province, Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Jo Cadilhon).

The July 2014 issue of Partners Magazine, the flagship publication of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), features an article on an ACIAR-funded project led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) that uses a risk assessment approach towards improving the safety of pig and pork value chains in Vietnam.

Hung Nguyen-Viet, an ILRI scientist and deputy director of the Center for Public Health and Ecosystem Research (CENPHER) at the Hanoi School of Public Health, is playing a lead role in the project which is working to strengthen local capacity on risk assessment for effective management of food safety along the entire value chain.

Read the article, Food safety from farm to fork

Read more about CENPHER in their new report, CENPHER five year report 2009–2014: From a research project to a research center

Live chicken vendor

Live chicken on sale in Hung Yen province, Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Nguyen Ngoc Huyen).

Can we predict the next global pandemic? How can we ensure that we are prepared to tackle the next global disease epidemic?

Ten years after the SARS pandemic, Alok Jha, a science correspondent at The Guardian, examines a new human-animal virus surveillance project in Vietnam as part of his investigation into the possibility of predicting the next global pandemic.

Read his article in The Guardian: A deadly disease could travel at jet speed around the world. How do we stop it in time?

Listen to his science documentary on BBC Radio 4: The Next Global Killer

Hung Nguyen-Viet

Hung Nguyen-Viet, researcher at the Center for Public Health and Ecosystem Research (CENPHER) and joint appointee of the International Livestock Research Institute (photo credit: CENPHER/Hung Nguyen-Viet).

We are pleased to congratulate Hung Nguyen-Viet for being among 10 recipients of the 2013 John Dillon Memorial Fellowship of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Hung is an environmental scientist at the Center for Public Health and Ecosystem Research (CENPHER) at the Hanoi School of Public Health and a joint appointee of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

The fellowship was set up in recognition of Professor John Dillon, one of Australia’s leading agricultural economists, and his life-long support for international agricultural research.

It provides career development opportunities for outstanding young agricultural scientists or economists from ACIAR partner countries who are involved in a current or recently completed ACIAR project.

Hung is currently involved in an ILRI project on reducing disease risks and improving food safety in smallholder pig value chains in Vietnam. The project is funded by ACIAR.

Through this fellowship, he will spend six weeks in Australia during February to March 2014 and take part in formal training in professional communication, leadership and research management, and visit various Australian research organizations.

Sinh Dang Xuan defends his Master of Veterinary Public Health thesis at Chiang Mai University, Thailand

Sinh Dang Xuan defends his Master of Veterinary Public Health thesis at the Chiang Mai University, Thailand. His research study was co-funded by the ILRI-led project “Ecosystem approaches to the better management of zoonotic emerging infectious diseases in Southeast Asia” (photo credit: ILRI/Fred Unger).

Congratulations are due to Sinh Dang Xuan on the successful defence of his Master of Veterinary Public Health thesis on 9 September 2013 at the Veterinary Public Health Centre for Asia Pacific, Chiang Mai University in Thailand. The course is a joint program of Freie Universität Berlin and Chiang Mai University.

His research study on quantifying Salmonella spp. in pig slaughterhouses and pork markets associated with human health in Hung Yen, Vietnam was co-funded by a project led by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) on ecohealth approaches to managing zoonoses in Southeast Asia.

It is one of the first studies carried out in Vietnam combining quantitative and qualitative research methods on ecohealth approaches to food safety in pork value chains.

View the presentation

Cover of special issue of Vietnam Journal of Preventive Medicine on risk assessment

The Vietnamese Journal of Preventive Medicine has published a special edition on risk assessment for health research in Vietnam. The June 2013 special edition is a compilation of over 10 original research papers on the application of risk analysis to the management of animal, human and environmental health in Vietnam. The subject of training and capacity development in health risk assessment in Vietnam is also featured.

Risk analysis is a scientific, risk-based approach to assessing the health effects and economic impacts of various hazards (for example, disease-causing microorganisms in food or chemical pollutants in water) in order to develop appropriate interventions to mitigate the health risks posed by the hazards, thus ensuring that people, animals and the environment are safe.

Risk analysis comprises three components: risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. In the developed world, risk assessment is widely applied and used as a tool for risk management, thanks to the availability and accessibility of large databases of diseases.

However, many developing countries – including Vietnam – do not have the research data and risk analysis expertise needed to be able to adequately inform policymaking on risk-based approaches to health management.

The research papers featured in the special issue provide insights into the current status of research on risk analysis in Vietnam, specifically, risk assessment of the health impacts of Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes in the pork value chain in Hanoi, arsenic contamination in drinking water in Hanam Province, dioxin contamination in food in Da Nang and pesticide residues in farms in Thai Binh.

The work is a result of the collaborative efforts of the Vietnamese Journal of Preventive Medicine and the Center for Public Health and Ecosystem Research (CENPHER) at the Hanoi School of Public Health (HSPH).

Among the co-authors of the research papers are Delia Grace and Lucy Lapar, scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Hung Nguyen-Viet who leads research at CENPHER-HSPH and is a joint appointee of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and ILRI.

The papers are in Vietnamese with abstracts available in English. Listed below are the titles of the papers.

  • Risk assessment and health research in Vietnam (editorial)
  • Risk assessment of Salmonella in pork in Hanoi, Vietnam
  • Food-borne hazards in a transforming pork value chain in Hanoi: Basis for future risk assessments
  • Health risk due to exposure to chlorpyrifos for farmers in Thai Binh: Probabilistic risk assessment
  • Risk assessment of arsenic contamination in tube-well drinking water in Hanam Province
  • Environmental health risk assessment of dioxin in foods in Da Nang dioxin hot spot
  • Prevalence of Salmonella contamination in pig and pork at farms and slaughterhouses in the northern provinces of Vietnam
  • Air pollution as a health issue in Hanoi, Vietnam: An opportunity for intensified research to inform public policy
  • Environmental health risk communication: Concept, principles and challenges
  • Training and research programs in health risk assessment in Vietnam
  • Task force of risk assessment for food safety in Vietnam: Linking science to policy to increase food safety and livelihood generation of the poor farmer
  • Research projects on health risk assessment implemented by the Hanoi School of Public Health

The special edition also includes news on risk assessment training in Vietnam and reviews of two books on risk assessment.

For more information on this special edition, please contact Hung Nguyen-Viet (hung.nguyen @

Live chicken vendor

A vendor weighs live chicken for sale in Hung Yen province, Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Nguyen Ngoc Huyen).

The first ever short course on One Health and EcoHealth in Vietnam – hosted by the Center for Public Health and Ecosystem Research (CENPHER) at the Hanoi School of Public Health (HSPH) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) – took place on 27-30 May 2013 in Hanoi.

While Vietnam is a part of the EcoHealth network in the Southeast Asia region, no formal EcoHealth training program existed in the country before the launch of this course.

EcoHealth is an emerging, multi-disciplinary field of study that examines how ecosystem changes affect human health so as to prevent new diseases from emerging.

The participants were an international, multi-disciplinary and multi-sector group drawn from various countries across the globe, including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore, Thailand, the United States of America and Vietnam.

The course, which was run by regionally based trainers, highlighted the conceptual framework of EcoHealth and One Health and its potential usefulness in advancing the agenda of public health. Specifically, activities generated from the workshop provided a chance to demonstrate how risk analysis can be used as a tool in developing strategies to prevent and control infectious diseases.

Through the introduction of concepts and didactic methods, application of case studies and participation in fieldwork, the course participants learned about the theory and major concepts of EcoHealth, and honed the skills necessary to apply the principles of One Health and EcoHealth in their respective fields of expertise.

Following the successful inception of One Health and EcoHealth training in Vietnam, CENPHER now plans to incorporate an EcoHealth course into a comprehensive and innovative public health training program. To do this, CENPHER will collaborate with various EcoHealth initiatives currently working in Southeast Asia, namely,

Beyond the immediate successes of expanding the scope of EcoHealth concepts and applications, the community at HSPH and CENPHER hopes that the output of this workshop will mark the start of continued growth, sustained partnerships and lasting opportunities for collaborative learning.

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