Initiative Result:

One Health coordination in food safety in Viet Nam and Ethiopia toward enhanced health and livelihoods

Food safety working groups are improving collaboration between researchers and policymakers in Viet Nam and Ethiopia.

The CGIAR Research Initiatives on One Health and Resilient Cities have led food safety groups in Viet Nam and Ethiopia, improving health and livelihoods. Since 2015, collaborations with scientists and development partners in Viet Nam have influenced national policies and benefited food business operators and communities. Efforts in Viet Nam – and Ethiopia to follow – drive policy development, tackle food safety issues, and set examples for impactful research-for-development, promoting global health and economic progress.

CGIAR Research Initiatives play a significant role in coordinating stakeholder engagement that could lead to enhanced uptake of research that  influences policies in different communities. The One Health and Resilient Cities Initiatives have been instrumental in convening key stakeholders to address food safety challenges in Viet Nam and Ethiopia.

Since 2015, researchers from ILRI have upheld a dedicated commitment to supporting the FSTWG in Viet Nam, showcasing a sustained effort to  improve food safety and public health in the region. Its integration into the One Health Partnership Viet Nam was a pivotal moment, with the launch celebrated on 28 September, 2023.

Sinh Dang, an ILRI postdoctoral scientist in Viet Nam, reflects on the impact, “FSTWG provides not only a technical platform for researchers to share updates, but also to recommend innovations for policymakers and donors to address and implement initiatives toward better food safety and security for Viet Nam.” Ethiopia’s story, while unique, shares the same thread of collaborative spirit. Without an existing FSTWG, researchers, led by ILRI, filled the void by establishing a working group under the National One Health Steering Committee, officially launched on 30 October, 2023.

Kebede Amenu, an ILRI postdoctoral scientist in Ethiopia, remarks, “The inherent complexity of food safety management in LMICs demands  comprehensive, multisectoral strategies, ideally within the framework of One Health. Food safety management in LMICs, including Ethiopia, requires thorough, multisectoral approaches within the One Health framework. Despite various initiatives by government and nongovernment organizations, there’s often a lack of coordination. The formation of the FSTWG by Ethiopia’s National One Health Steering Committee could greatly enhance coordinated national efforts in food safety, offering advisory support to the government.”

The working groups have worked tirelessly, not only paving the way for policy development but also significantly impacting the livelihoods of  individuals and communities at the core of the food system. Their efforts have been instrumental in driving progress that goes beyond regulatory change to enhance the daily life and wellbeing of communities.

Feyesa Regassa, chair of the Ethiopia Nation One Health Steering Committee, shared the impact on livelihoods, saying, “We are empowering  communities through enhanced food safety.” “The FSTWG is dedicated to addressing local food safety challenges, reducing foodborne illnesses, and enhancing the quality of food production. This multisectoral approach aims to boost family incomes, improve market opportunities, and strengthen food safety infrastructure, as evidenced by significant advancements in International Health Regulation core capacities,” he added. The Vietnamese FSTWG’s influence on the National Action Plan showcases the power of persistent advocacy, embedding food safety into national priorities. In Ethiopia, the establishment of the FSTWG marks the beginning of a robust, demand-driven initiative aimed at enhancing food safety standards in response to current needs while also ensuring long-term sustainability.

“Since 2016, the One Health Partnership in Viet Nam has been advancing Viet Nam’s response to zoonotic diseases through a collaborative human-animal-ecosystem approach. This initiative, led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment , has launched various technical working groups, notably the FSTWG. Co-chaired by ILRI, the FSTWG has been instrumental in providing strategic insights and recommendations to enhance food safety and reduce foodborne disease impacts. The leading ministries are dedicated to fostering effective communication and policy impact through enhanced coordination,” shared Ms. Vu
Thi Phuong, senior officer of Viet Nam’s International Cooperation Department, MARD. This is not just research—it’s research-for-development in action.

The multisectoral makeup of the FSTWGs, with representatives from various fields, exemplifies a holistic approach to tackling complex issues. They stand not just as groups but as a unified front for change, reflecting the growing need for such models in LMICs that seek to turn the tide on food safety and health.

Header photo: Selling pork in a wet market in Hanoi, Vietnam. Credit: ILRI/Vu Ngoc Dung

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