Antibiotic Awareness Week visual story contest – Stop poultry from bingeing on antibiotics!

“Cai Nhậu Kháng Sinh Cho Gia Cầm,” a visual story contest engaging high school students on antibiotic resistance in poultry farming, will be launched in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap on 13 November, in celebration of this year’s World Antibiotic Awareness Week (13-19 November, 2017).

The contest name (literally “stop your poultry from binge-drinking antibiotics”) refers to Vietnam’s farming sector, where abuse of antibiotics in chicken and duck farming is widespread and there is an urgent need for farmers to reduce antibiotic usage.

“We’re delighted to contribute to the Antibiotic Awareness Week through co-organizing the contest,” said OUCRU’s Juan Carrique-Mas. Dr. Carrique-Mas is the Principal Investigator of ViParc, a farm-based trial in Dong Thap province aiming to help farmers raise healthy chickens with lesser amounts of antibiotics.

“ViParc is very much community focused, so engaging the youth in the Mekong Delta, who often help out their families with farming duties, including the raising of backyard and household poultry, is a positive development,” Dr. Carrique-Mas said.

The visual story contest will invite students from two rural high schools to submit photos, drawings and short essays on good farming practices, which help prevent bacterial infections in poultry and reduce the need for antibiotics in the first place.

“Cai Nhậu Kháng Sinh Cho Gia Cầm” is jointly organized by OUCRU, the Dong Thap Center for Health Information and Education, and the Provincial Department of Education and Training, showcasing multi-disciplinary collaboration to tackle antibiotic resistance in both animals and humans.

The contest organizers chose to engage young people since most farm owners in Vietnam are older men, whereas women, children and teenagers are heavily involved in the day-to-day care of poultry but have been overlooked in major efforts to educate the public about antibiotic resistance in farming.

Antibiotics are medicines used to prevent and treat bacterial infections. Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to the use of these medicines. Bacteria, not humans or animals, become antibiotic-resistant. These bacteria may infect humans and animals, and the infections they cause are harder to treat than those caused by non-resistant bacteria. While a complex issue with multiple causes, antibiotic resistance is fast promoted by the overuse and misuse of antibiotics in livestock production. An OUCRU project in 2015 found that about 470 mg of antibiotics was used to raise one meat chicken in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, up to 5-7 times the average in Europe.

Antibiotic resistance can spread from animals to humans through contact, food and environmental pathways. This problem is already a threat worldwide, causing about 700,000 human deaths a year. Without public action, by 2050, an estimated 10 million people might die annually because of antibiotic resistance, according to a 2016 report commissioned by the UK Government.