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Thu, 06/18/2020 – 13:44 | Nguyễn Thanh Lương

VTV1, the leading Vietnamese state-run media outlet, recently interviewed Hung Nguyen, regional representative for East and Southeast Asia and senior scientist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), and Tuyet Hanh Tran, associate professor at the Hanoi University of Public Health (HUPH). The interview explored the connections between ecosystem disruptions and emerging and re-emerging infectious human diseases, especially zoonotic diseases (those shared by animals and people) in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Reporter Tung Thu began the interview by observing that while COVID-19 is posing a serious threat to human health and economic development, its impact on the environment is mixed: ‘We are even seeing the crisis having some positive effects on the environment’. She asked what would happen if human beings continue to develop without taking environmental well-being and other sustainability factors into account.

HUPH’s Tuyet Hanh Tran said that some zoonotic diseases that used to be well controlled some six decades ago have re-emerged and are getting more difficult to curb in recent decades, for example, dengue fever. She explained that this can be attributed to human impacts on ecosystems, rapid urbanization, population growth, globalization, modern modes of transportation, the evolution of microorganisms, changes in lifestyles, and policy changes in vector management, among other factors.

Photo 1: Dr Tuyet Hanh Tran, associate professor at the Hanoi University of Public Health (HUPH).

Tran noted that animals, especially wildlife, carry pathogens that can be transmitted to humans, either through close physical contact; contact with the infected animal’s saliva, blood, urine or faeces during slaughter; or through infection when eating them.

She also indicated that urbanization, especially in poor, crowded cities, can accelerate the transmissibility of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. She explained that this is why social distancing is recommended to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.

In terms of how to better manage zoonotic diseases, ILRI’s Hung Nguyen emphasized the need to apply a ‘One Health’ approach, which mobilizes interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral collaboration among animal, human and environmental health to work together to address disease challenges. ‘The current COVID-19 pandemic is revealing the importance of deploying a One Health approach in tackling the zoonotic diseases in a more effective and comprehensive manner,’ he commented.

Photo 2: Dr Nguyen Viet Hung, Regional Representative for East and Southeast Asia, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

In Vietnam, ILRI and its partners, including HUPH, are embracing One Health and Ecohealth approaches in addressing transboundary and inter-sectoral issues such as food safety, antimicrobial resistance and zoonotic diseases. ILRI and HUPH have been working together for the last 10 years in partnership developing One Health and EcoHealth capacity and influencing policy in Vietnam. Strengthening One Health and EcoHealth research is now the focus of the partnership, with the aim of advancing the knowledge and generating more evidence from the country for policy advocacy and interventions.

The story was broadcast on the show ‘Green Future’ of VTV1, which addresses key issues associated with the environment. See the full report (in Vietnamese).

Hung Nguyen and Tuyet Hanh Tran are co-editors of a 2016 book, Ecosystem approach to health (Ecohealth): Theory and practices in environmental health research in Vietnam, which was an outcome generated by an EcoHealth project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and implemented by many partners in Southeast Asia.

Photo 3: Book: Ecosystem approach to health (Ecohealth): Theory and practices in environmental health research in Vietnam, which was an outcome generated by an EcoHealth project funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and implemented by many partners in Southeast Asia


A recent global conference brought together human and animal health experts to explore how EcoHealth and One Health approaches are being evaluated and implemented in practice in different parts of the world, learn about changes in institutional and regulatory structures and how to promote One Health in the translation of science into practice.

The ‘Creating Impact for One Health and EcoHealth: advancements in implementation, evaluation and governance’ conference in Bologna, Italy, 10-12 September 2018, drew more than 100 participants from five continents.

The event was part of ongoing series on One Health evaluation, capacity development, stakeholder engagement and working group meetings that have been hosted by the Network for Evaluation of One Health (NEOH) over the past three and half years. The conference is a contributor to enabling qualitative and quantitative evaluation of One Health and related integrated approaches to health globally.

Hung Nguyen make a presentation reflecting One Health and EcoHealth in Asia (photo credit: NEOH)

At the conference, Hung Nguyen, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) regional representative for East and Southeast Asia, gave a presentation reflecting on the use of One Health and EcoHealth in Asia to the participants who were mostly NEOH’s members representing a wide range of disciplines, sectors and organizations.

Nguyen said One Health is a useful paradigm for framing complex public health issues globally, especially in Asia, which is a hot spot of emerging infectious diseases, specifically for zoonotic and vector-borne diseases, which pose numerous health risks to the continent’s booming population, reduce economic growth, devastate the environment, and affect agricultural and livestock production.

Nguyen highlighted key One Health projects that have been implemented in Asia to address food-borne diseases in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and antimicrobial resistance in India.

He underlined how One Health capacity development has been developed through the Southeast Asia One Health University Network (SEAOHUN) that links and empowers 67 universities to generate intellectual and social capital across human, animal and environmental health sectors. He also shared the model of Vietnam’s One Health Partnership (OHP) which has reaped much success in boosting One Health activities in the country. Similar One Health structures are now being set up in other Southeast Asia countries with variable levels of efforts and commitments.

Despite these achievements, Nguyen pointed out that barriers to One Health activities in the region still remain. Although some EcoHealth projects in Southeast Asia have been financially supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), major EcoHealth projects on emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) and zoonotic emerging infectious diseases (ZEIDs) have primarily been funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). He said this limited funding risked the sustainability of One Health activities in the region in case One Health fell off IDRC’s agenda.

Moreover, enthusiasm for EcoHealth has been highest among veterinarians, environmentalists and medical sociologists who are the most marginalized in the arena of human health.

He cautioned that wider implementation of One Health approaches in the region will need to be supported more policy changes, capacity development in One Health and greater inclusion and coordination between the health, agricultural and environmental sectors.

Representatives from Africa, Europe, North and Latin America, and Oceania also made presentations at the conference which gave participants a panorama of One Health and EcoHealth activities globally.

NEOH is a global platform that brings together more than 200 members from 30 countries representing a wide range of disciplines, sectors and organizations with the aim of enabling future quantitative evaluations of One Health activities and furthering the evidence base by developing and applying a science-based evaluation protocol in a community of experts.

See the presentation by Hung Nguyen here.

See the summary of the 2 day conference with presentation slides linked

(This post was originally posted on ILRI Asia and written by Chi Nguyen, ILRI Communication Officer).

We, researchers of multiple disciplines, educators, students, practitioners, activists and representatives of indigenous and community organizations, providers of hope, knowledge and health in our communities, have come from five continents to the city of Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia , where we met from August 14 to 18, 2018, at the 7th Biennial Conference of the International Association of Ecology and Health (IAEH) and the 3rd Latin American Public Health Meeting; and based on our multiple shared experiences, in the unity of talents, spirits and wills in favor of a healthy, free, clean and fair world, we issue the following statement.

See the Statement in full here


The fourth issue of the International Association for Ecology and Health (IAEH) newsletter is now available. Click here to read it .

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In a lawsuit that will inspire and galvanize many other indigenous communities across the Amazon for years to come, the Kofan of Sinangoe have won a trial against four Ecuadorian ministries and agencies for having granted or attempted to grant more than 30,000 hectares of mining concessions in pristine Amazonian rainforest on the border of their ancestral land without their free, prior and informed consent. The destructive mining operations that were taking place within these concessions threatened not only the Kofan’s lives, culture and health, but also those of the countless communities located downriver.


The community of Sinangoe gathered in front of the courtroom in Lumbaqui (Succumbíos) on July 27th 2018.

In a historic decision on Friday July 27th 2018, a regional judge accepted the evidence provided by the community, charged the government with not having consulted the Kofan, and suspended all mining activity in more than 52 concessions in the headwaters of the Aguarico River. The decision was immediately appealed by all the authorities involved, and then by Sinangoe and their ally in the Defensoria del Pueblo, who seek an even tougher verdict recognizing that rights to health, water and a clean environment had also been violated. The case will be brought before a provincial judge in August, 2018.

The free, prior and informed consent loophole

Like in many places around the world, the Ecuadorian government has a mining claim system built to facilitate any interested party in purchasing cheap concessions— maximizing foreign interests and accelerating the approval process. Although both Ecuador’s Mining Act and the Constitution recognize the need for Free, Prior and Informed Consent from stakeholder communities for mining operations, it is still mostly a theoretical concept ignored by Ecuadorian agencies. Hence Sinangoe’s lawsuit. According to the experts heard over the course of the legal process, the Mining ministry leaves the “consultation” to the mining company or the concession owners themselves, which in turn have no legal obligation to consult with local people, and often will perform their “consultation” through a phone call or by handing out a simple information pamphlet. In the case of Sinangoe, it was when machines started tearing up the riverbed of the Aguarico looking for gold that the community learned about the new concessions.

The Environment ministry, on the other end, stipulated in the courtroom that it is not responsible for consulting with communities impacted by mining. Interestingly, according to the Mining Act, the Environment Ministry needs to grant environmental licenses before operations can begin, unless the granting process takes more than 6 months, in which case – as unbelievable as this is – the permits are automatically granted to the operators. So basically, via a very simple bureaucratic process involving nothing more than paperwork, a mining operator can very quickly obtain 20 to 25-year land claims within 6 months, while the impacted communities living downstream haven’t even heard about the concessions. This is a loophole the judge described as a violation of the right to free, prior and informed consent, a verdict that will help many other communities facing the same threats in a country where gold mining is booming.

When rigorous community monitoring pays off

Throughout the lawsuit, the ministries’ lawyers vigorously tried to destroy Sinangoe’s evidence, credibility, ownership of and ancestral claims to the land. They downplayed the environmental damage documented by Sinangoe, claiming that the Kofan aren’t impacted by the mining operations because their land is on the other side of the river and that legal mining has minimal footprint on the environment. However, Sinangoe had done what will likely inspire many other communities: they had documented every step made by the miners through rigorous and systematic monitoring using high tech mapping, filming, archiving all evidence, and then they used legal tactics to pressure every single level of government to act to stop the operations. Systematic recording of all the different types of evidence helped build a solid case against a negligent concession-granting system.

Once in the courtroom, Sinangoe had accrued such a massive body of evidence of environmental damage and inaction on the part of the government that the judge requested a field inspection, a key event that helped him understand the scale of the damage already done, showed the deep connection the Kofan have with the area transformed into mining concessions, discredited the ministries’ arguments, and also allowed him to witness the sheer beauty of the area at risk.

A first legal victory, but the battle for land and rights still rages

To the officials sitting in their offices in Quito, these concessions were nothing more than coordinates and squares on a map, but to the Kofan who live across the riverbank, the area is a place imbued with life, history, sustenance, stories and so much more. To grant concessions without experiencing the place in and of itself, either through field visits or proper consultation with the people who inhabit and use the territory, is a transgression of the inherent value of sites so rich in history and biodiversity.

Sinangoe’s strength has been put to trial, and the community’s perseverance and conviction have provided them a first legal victory and attracted support from various indigenous and human rights organization across the country. With all ministries involved appealing the judgment, the Kofan will need more strength and support to navigate the next wave of legal governmental intimidation.

Sign the pledge in support of Sinangoe and stay tuned for more on our work to defend rights, lands and life in the Amazon.

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This webalogue will provide an overview of two recent publications clarifying the intent and focus of emerging and established approaches to environmental health research and practice. This webinar will provide an overview of several milestones in environmental public health practice to foster a discussion about the future of these fields and the implications of an increasingly ‘crowded’ environmental public health landscape. For participant’s reference, the papers in question are available at the following links, although you are not required to read these materials prior to the webalogue:
1) Buse CG, Oestreicher JS, Ellis NR, et al Public health guide to field developments linking ecosystems, environments and health in the Anthropocene J Epidemiol Community Health 2018;72:420-425. Available:
2) Oestreicher JS, Buse C, Brisbois B, Patrick R, Jenkins A, Kingsley J, Tevora R, Fatorelli L. (2018). Where ecosystems, people and health meet: Academic traditions and emerging fields for research and practice. Sustenabilidade em Debate, 9(1), 45-65. DOI: 10.18472/SustDeb.v9n1.2018.28258. Available:
See the webalogue here Tim Horton Authentic Jersey

Edited by Merrilyn Walton from Sydney University, One Planet, One Health provides a multidisciplinary reflection on the state of our planet, human and animal health, as well as the critical effects of climate change on the environment and livelihoods of people. Climate change is already impacting many poor communities and traditional aid programs have achieved relatively small gains.

See the Flyer to have further information.

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The Asia Pacific is the world most dynamic region thanks to its rapid economic growth. However, the region is also facing profound challenges such as emerging infectious diseases, food insecurity, anti-microbial resistance, and climate change. With growing immigrants and booming in cross-national trading, these health-related issues rise concerns at the regional level which need to be tackled through North-South cooperation.

System thinking approach to health, such as One Health and Ecohealth, recognizes the linkage among human, animal and environmental health and encourages the global cooperation in tackling with those challenges. These research approaches have been promoted globally and especially in Southeast Asia which is considered the hot spot for infectious and zoonotic diseases in Asia Pacific region.

On 9 February 2018, a group of researchers from Hanoi University of Public Health (HUPH) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) shared their works in doing One Health and Ecohealth research through a half-day seminar at the Rakuno Gakuen University (RGU) in Hokkaido, Japan. The content included a preview of ecohealth research in South East Asia, an introduction of One Health core competencies and curriculum development in Southeast Asia and Vietnam and a sharing on One Health and Ecohealth approach in food safety research in Southeast Asia. The seminar was hosted by Prof. Kohei Makita from the RGU and its presenters were Dr. Nguyen Viet Hung – Regional Representative for East and Southeast Asia of the ILRI, Dr. Pham Duc Phuc – Coordinator of Vietnam One Health University Network and Deputy Director of Center for Public Health and Ecosystem Research of the HUPH, and Dr. Fred Unger – Senior Scientist of the ILRI. Both ILRI and HUPH have had the long-term collaboration with the RGU. This was an attempt to share experiences, lessons learned, and examples in transdisciplinary research from the Southeast Asian context which could enrich the understanding of students from both veterinary medicine and public health in dealing with global issues of human and animal health.

The research group received a warm welcome from the president of the RGU (Photo credit: Hung Nguyen-Viet/ILRI Vietnam)

Presenters and students from the RGU at the seminar (Photo credit: Hung Nguyen-Viet/ILRI Vietnam)

Dr. Pham Duc Phuc presented his experiences in One Health curriculum development in universities in Vietnam (Photo credit: Hung Nguyen-Viet/ILRI Vietnam)

Dr. Fred Unger with presentation on One Health and Ecohealth application in research on food safety (Photo credit: Hung Nguyen-Viet/ILRI Vietnam)

Dr. Nguyen Viet Hung shared his work on Ecohealth in Southeast Asia, outlining achievements and challenges of the approach over the last 10 years and future outlook of the approach in the region (Photo credit: Hung Nguyen-Viet/ILRI Vietnam)

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We are pleased to inform you that the 7th International Conference for the Association for Ecology and Health, EcoHealth 2018, will be hosted by our colleagues at the University of Valle, Cali, Colombia. The overall theme of the Congress is “Environmental and Health Equity: Connecting local alternatives in a global World.” This theme emphasizes the need to connect local initiatives in a world with global drivers that threaten healthy ecosystems and populations, and makes a call to tackle these forces and pursue justice.

The call for abstracts has just been announced and we encourage members to submit abstracts for consideration via this link:

We also highly encourage members to attend this conference as this year the Association Board has been working on a new constitution for the organization which will be presented at the Conference for ratification. Thus, this will be a critical event for the International Association for Ecology and Health and an important opportunity for you to have an influence on the future direction of the Association.

More information about the Conference can be found at this link below. Please visit the link regularly for updates. Charles Harris Jersey

On Friday May 19, EcoHealth Journal’s Artist-in-Residence Mark Olival-Bartley will be giving a talk and reading at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, couching the cultural outreach of EcoHealth amid the storied votive sites in La Serenissima.  A PDF of the chapbook can be read here.

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