Locals form community advisory boards in Dong Thap, discuss antimicrobial use in agriculture and consumers’ health
Ho Chi Minh City, 20 June 2017 – Community members and representatives from local organizations gathered in Dong Thap last week for two Community Advisory Board (CAB) meetings, discussing antimicrobial use in agriculture and consumers’ health. The events took place in Cao Lanh and Thap Muoi Districts on 13 and 14 June respectively.
Operating alongside ViParc, a longitudinal study, the CABs serve as a bridge between researchers and the wider public, ensuring that – through frequent communications – community interests will be respected and research goals advanced. CAB members – coming from a diversity of backgrounds and yet sharing similar concerns about livestock production – bring unique insights into Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR), one of the scientific issues being studied under ViParc.
A case in point is the use of cinnamon, instead of synthetic antimicrobials, to kill bacteria in poultry. “I wondered if Ceylon cinnamon would have any effect on AMR,” said Nguyen Van Thien, a farmer volunteering to serve on the CAB in Cao Lanh District. Mr. Thien had fed many of his chicken flocks with Ceylon cinnamon and they appeared quite healthy, which opened a fresh view into the AMR discourse in a rural setting. ViParc researchers could not endorse any specific product, however, since different farms would have different needs.
The CAB meeting in Thap Muoi District, on the other hand, saw a greater interest in consumers’ health. “How can market inspectors like myself differentiate between ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ meat when we don’t know how chickens were raised back in the farm?” asked Pham Minh Thong.
To such concern, ViParc researcher Nguyen Van Cuong said there should be trust building between the selling and buying sides. “This process requires farmers to be committed to good husbandry practices and consumers to make decisions based on the general reputation of particular sources,” Mr. Cuong added.
Both meetings ended with 21 guests confirming their CAB membership and willingness to advise the ViParc research until 2020. A few others needed to discuss within their respective organizations before deciding who would be most fit to join the CABs and foster the public discourse on antimicrobial use in livestock production.
ViParc, or “the Vietnamese Platform for Antimicrobial Reductions in Chicken Production,” is a farm-based trial aiming to help farmers in the Mekong Delta raise healthy chickens with lesser amounts of antimicrobials. The research studies a total of 91 farms Cao Lanh and Thap Muoi, two districts with some of the largest chicken flocks in Dong Thap. Enrolling the first poultry farm in November 2016, ViParc is designed with a one-year baseline, followed by an intervention phase of 18 months.
This longitudinal study is led by scientists from the Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Ho Chi Minh City, with the Dong Thap Sub-Department of Livestock Production & Animal Health acting as an implementing partner. ViParc is funded by the Wellcome Trust, a London-based funding organization for biomedical research. More information about the project is available at www.viparc.org.