|February 13, 2007- Less than an hour west from Hanoi, Vietnam’s buzzing capital city, life takes on a far more traditional rural pace. High school students pedal home on their push-bikes, passing paddy fields where farmers are ankle deep in water, planting rice for the new season.
On the local roadways of Ha Tay province, ducks and chickens protrude from wire cages on the backs of puttering motorbikes. Their destination is the busy Ha Vy poultry market – an important gathering point for this local community for decades.
In 2003, the marketplace was devastated when the deadly H5N1 virus or Avian and Human Influenza (AHI) hit the area hard. The market had to close for two months, nobody dared to even pass by as thousands of poultry died in the area. Suddenly, this quiet province in rural Vietnam was at the centre of worldwide pandemic fears.
|This area of Vietnam has not had an outbreak of AHI since 2003. Teams of animal health workers take swab samples from ducks in the Ha Vy poultry market.|
Fast forward to February 2007 and the market is back in full swing. But a few things have changed. On entering the area, the wheels of all vehicles are sprayed with disinfectant, lime powder covers high traffic areas of the market and, at regular intervals, animal health teams take blood samples from ducks and chickens. Many people in the market wear protective face masks and there’s a definite new awareness of the risks to human health and the local economy that another outbreak could bring.
Jim Adams, who has recently become the World Bank’s Vice President for East Asia Pacific after leading the Bank’s efforts in the international fight against AHI, visited the Ha Vy poultry market as part of a recent trip to Vietnam. He told journalists that Vietnam’s efforts in tackling the problem were setting the pace for the rest of Asia.
“Vietnam is a leader in the international fight against Avian and Human Influenza and has set up a successful model that has so far been applied in more than 30 countries,” he said.
|World Bank Vice-President for East Asia & Pacific Jim Adams discusses Avian flu control measures with a district official on a visit to a commune outside of Hanoi, Vietnam.|
Bank Support to Communities
The World Bank is helping local communities like this one rebuild poultry markets across Vietnam for two reasons: to support local sellers with their trade and to improve hygiene conditions as part of the fight against bird flu.
Mr Adams announced that the Bank will be providing $US400,000 for the first phase of a new market at Ha Vy. The provincial government is also contributing funding and, eventually, the market will cover more than 10 hectares of land.
Nearby in Phuc Tien commune, Vu Thi Nhien – who raises 200 ducks and 100 chickens – is attending a workshop on how to safely handle poultry and limit the danger of human infection from bird flu. Organized jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the provincial government, the workshop specifically targets small holders with less than a few hundred fowl.
“I feel more confident about how to avoid bird flu now,” Mrs Nhien said. “There are several hundred households in this area and we all care for poultry. With this new knowledge we can better care for our animals and protect our families.”
The Bank has just concluded discussions with the national government on the multi-million dollar Vietnam Avian and Human Influenza Control strategy, which will be implemented in eight provinces. The strategy aims to overcome weaknesses in preventative and curative care — especially in infectious disease surveillance and response, laboratory testing, infection control, health communications, human resources, and coordination with other relevant sectors.
Because of Vietnam’s swift and comprehensive response to the virus, there has been no human infection from avian flu in this area since 2003.