Situation in Vietnam
The Avian Flu- a Vietnamese Perspective
-by Tran, our teammate from Vietnam
"...47 million poultry culled..."
not a big problem.
"...91 human cases infected..."
but they did not all die.
is not as much as cancer.
These statistics might not seem very ominous but they are a result of a serious infectious disease that is threatening the world. It could happen to you and it did happen once in Vietnam. It is called Avian Flu.
If you have ever heard about the Avian Flu, you must have heard about the epidemic in Vietnam. I know this first hand because this is my country. Here is a short summary of the events that began two years ago.
The first time this virus appeared in Vietnam was December 2003. It began in the farmlands of South Vietnam. The first human case reported was December 12, 2003. This was the first death related to the Avian Flu. There were to be three more waves of H5N1to hit Vietnam.
The first wave was from December 26, 2003 to October 3, 2004, there were twenty three cases. Out of these twenty three cases there were sixteen deaths. The second wave was from July 19, 2004 and lasted until August 26, 2004. There were four infected cases and all of them died. The third wave was from December 16, 2004 and lasted until mid-2005; there were sixty cases and eighteen deaths. From the end of 2005 there were not any reported cases in Vietnam either in the population or in poultry. The Vietnamese government has basically learned how to control the H5N1 virus.
The influence of the H5N1 virus has greatly impacted the economy of Vietnam. As a result of three waves, forty seven million poultry were destroyed, and the loss of income to the farmers were over 100 billion VND (that is about 6,250,000 US dollars). The government had to pay 360 billion VND to compensate their losses. In total, the loss was 460 billions of VND, which is about 28,750,000 US dollars. The GDP of poultry sector was reduced to 0.5 in 2004. More than eight million farmers and their families were impacted by the loss of revenue. The price of poultry dropped resulting in the increase of prices for other food products. This is only one aspect of how the Avian Flu that has influenced the Vietnamese economy and the people of Vietnam.
The Avian Flu situation now in Vietnam can be summarized in two words: very good. There have not been any human cases reported since the third wave and there has not been the need to cull any chicken. Other countries are now seeing more and more of the devastation the H5N1 virus can have on its economy, but Vietnam has been free of this fearless killer since the beginning of 2006. From my point of view, Vietnam is now safe from the grips of the Avian Flu.
If someone thinks the Vietnamese will not continue to monitor possible outbreaks because the situation is under control or if someone believes Vietnam is hopeless in its ability to fight the Avian Flu, they are all wrong. Even though the H5N1 virus in Vietnam has been contained, we can still contribute to the ongoing process of eradication. The world is still being threaten by this dangerous virus. We will not just stand here and close our eyes and pretend everything is alright. Vietnam is a part of the global community and we will do everything in our power to save ourselves and to help other countries fight this deadly virus. We have our experience and our willingness to offer the world.
First two picture taken by Hieu; others courtesy of our friend, Ngoc Tran.
Update from Vietnam
Dr. Tran Thanh Duong works in the Prevention Department for the Ministry of Health. This is the summary of a current interview I did with him via telephone. The information he gave me is as follows:
_The last reported human case was November 11, 2005
_The last reported poultry case was in December 15, 2005
The Vietnamese government handled this by the following procedure:
_Communication with all the inhabitants concerning the Avian Flu.
_Prevention methods for humans and poultry were stepped up by importing pharmaceuticals/vaccines. (I was unsure though if he meant only Tamiflu Antiviral)
The total cost was more than 100 billion Vietnamese dollars. This is staggering considering 1 US dollar equals 1600 Vietnamese dollars. Farmers who manage small farms are still prohibited from feeding chickens and ducks. There are just a few farms which are allowed to feed poultry. These are mainly large chicken farms and still they are under strict control from the government.
Besides the information Dr. Duong gave me, this interview really showed me how diligent the government of Vietnam is in following through with their prevention and control policies.
More Updates from Vietnam
Advantage and Disadvantages of the Avian Flu Situation in Vietnam
These are the advantages and disadvantages of Avian Flu prevention in Vietnam. This comes from a conversation I had with my Uncle who is a Doctor combating the Avian Flu in Vietnam. These are his thoughts as well as mine as we sat down to discuss the situation in Vietnam..
The advantages we agreed on are as follows:
-Vietnam has the experience in preventing the Avian Flu. The experience Vietnam had with the SARS outbreaks helped create an effective program for prevention in the types of diseases that can spread quickly. Vietnam understands the importance of swift and immediate action.
.-The health system has an excellent foundation from cities to the countryside with good preparations and effective methods once an infection is diagnosed.
.-Updating and relaying information to the people is continual. The people are always being informed of the latest outbreaks. This is true for the virus found in Vietnam and all over the world..
-There is cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and the local magistrates in each area.
From his point of view and mine here are the disadvantages:
-There is not enough knowledge about how the Avian Flu will mutate.
-There is not an effective vaccine so prevention on that level is difficult.
-Some provinces are not aware of the real danger and therefore do not have good methods to prevent the Avian Flu.
-Some hospitals do not have enough medical equipment to treat the Avian Flu.
-Most of the farms in Vietnam are small, each family has a farm, so it is hard to control and prevent the Avian Flu on each individual farm.
-The awareness of people concerning prevention and the belief the danger is very low inhibits effective prevention.
As we discussed this issue we also discovered money played a great huge role in how a country deals with the Avian Flu. Here is the amount of money Vietnam received worldwide to combat the Avian Flu:
From the sponsors:18.810.787 USD
From the organizations:ADB: 65.000USDEC: 1.914.637USDFAO: 387.979USDWHO: 25.000
From the supporting program of UNDP:Poland: 3.209.384Holland: 1.175.000Austria: 750.000Switzerland: 399.980Canada: 854.701Luxembourg: 605.327United Kingdom: 119.927UNDP: 70.000Demark: 7.695.175
From other sources: 18.000.000
Total: 46.898.578 USD
I hope this information spur’s our readers to think about some of the issues surrounding the
Avian Flu in their countries. Vietnam is just one example of a country that has been hit by the Avian Flu. Ask yourself what are the advantages and disadvantages in your country? What will tip the scale so the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? How much money will it take to keep people safe? How does your country educate those that are non-believers? The questions are many, the answers are still unknown. Maybe it will be one of our readers that develop an innovative solution.