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FAO-WHO’s joint assessment on the preparedness of Avian Influenza A (H7N9) in Viet Nam

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FAO-WHO joint assessment compressedViet Nam is one of the eight UN Delivering as One (DaO) pilot countries which supports a close working relationship among UN partners.And within the UN Viet Nam One Plan and specifically the Health Joint Planning Group (JPG), the Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Viet Nam and World Health Organization (WHO) have been key players in the Communicable Diseases sub-group leading to development of a joint work plan and activities such as addressing H7N9 collaboratively through One Health.

With the financial support from the United States Agency of International Development (USAID), FAO ECTAD Viet Nam and WHO Viet Nam are actively supporting MARD and MOH on H7N9 prevention and control in the country.H7N9 risk assessment meetings are held based on the need, and H7N9 updates from both the animal and human health sectors are shared and discussed regularly. Also FAO, WHO, MOH and MARD are preparing to implement two H7N9 table top exercises, and Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) to prepare the H7N9 incursion.

In order to have a deeper insight in the field level from both animal and human health sectors, recently FAO ECTAD Viet Nam and WHO Viet Nam conducted a joint mission to Lao Cai Province, Viet Nam to assess and promote preparedness for possible introduction of the avian influenza A (H7N9), together with the General Department of Preventive Medicine (GDPM), Ministry of Health (MOH) and Department of Animal Health (DAH) within the Ministry of Agriculture and Development (MARD).With DAH and FAO representing animal health and GDPM and WHO representing human health, experts from both sectors gathered under the One Health concept to assess and analyze the current preparedness situation of H7N9 in Viet Nam’s bordering area with China.As H7N9 virus is not yet found in Viet Nam, effective coordination for preparedness planning is important.  

Mission participants visited and conducted meetings with counterparts from animal and human health institutions and departments, and two live bird markets. By visiting both animal and human health institutions ranging from commune to provincial level, the mission group was able to have a better understanding on the coordination mechanisms for possible AI outbreak and the difficulties in the field. As Lao Cai was the first province to conduct market closure for the recent avian influenza H5N1 and H5N6 outbreak among the poultry population, participants were able to assess their outbreak response plan results and provide feedback.

At the end of the mission, all stakeholders gathered and had a debriefing session for the situation assessment and recommendations were provided by FAO and WHO. Mission participants were generally impressed on the coordination by the steering committees on AI prevention and control in both commune and provincial level and their fast response in case of outbreak. However, difficulties in controlling both the cross border and inter-provincial poultry movement still existed. Also it was suggested that both animal and human health sectors had to meet and coordinate more frequently, especially for post-outbreak reviews simulation practice, and to conduct joint outbreak investigations. For risk communication, it was recommended that high risk groups such as poultry vendors, transporters and slaughters be targeted to maximize their awareness and preventative measures they could take.

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