Antimicrobial Resistance

Research into antimicrobial resistance at OUCRU Vietnam

Antimicrobial resistance is a major concern throughout the world. Since the introduction of penicillin, antibiotics have been used so widely that bacteria have adapted and are becoming more and more resistant to them. OUCRU’s research focuses on the following areas:

  • Emergence of antimicrobial resistance, looking at how and why antibiotic resistance is developing.
  • Preventing resistance to antimicrobials: working out how best to prevent resistance developing.
  • Alternative treatment options: to find the best treatment options for antimicrobial resistant infections.
  • The role of agriculture: to identify of the main drivers of antimicrobial use and resistance in animal production.

Antimicrobial resistance in Vietnam

  • Unregulated use of antibiotics is common in Vietnam. Antibiotics are often sold without a doctor’s prescription or even by a trained pharmacist. There is less regulation of marketing methods of pharmaceutical companies to prevent them giving selective information or material incentives to doctors and pharmacists.
  • Agricultural and non-medical use of antimicrobials is extensive. In poultry and pig productions antimicrobials are typically used to prevent rather than to treat clinical disease. Most commercial feed currently used for poultry and pig production is medicated with antibiotics. The amount of antimicrobials used to raise poultry is in the order of 5-7 times higher than in European countries.
  • We do not know the best way to prevent antibiotic resistance in countries such as Vietnam. We know very little about how and why resistance develops and most of our knowledge comes from Western countries, which may have very different reasons for resistance.

Our Work

  • OUCRU Vietnam conducts antimicrobial resistance research within two main centres : OUCRU Ha Noi and OUCRU Ho Chi Minh City. OUCRU is also part of a network of 16 hospitals throughout Vietnam providing important information on antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic use for Vietnamese doctors and policy makers.
  • We are conducting detailed studies on how antimicrobial resistance occurs looking at infections occurring in hospitalised patients and those treated in the community.
  • We are looking at ways of improving the diagnosis of simple infections in primary health care as this may reduce antibiotic overuse.
  • We are involved with developing national antimicrobial treatment guidelines.
  • We are advising the Ministry Of Health on a National Action Plan on Antimicrobial Resistance
  • Community projects studying pharmacy and prescribing practices to find ways of reducing unnecessary antibiotic use.
  • We are investigating the dynamics of antimicrobial resistance in pig and poultry farms. We are collecting data collecting data on antimicrobial use over the production cycle and are measuring the resistance present in commensal organisms in animals and the farm’s environment.

Our Antimicrobial Resistance researchers

  • Guy Thwaites
  • Stephen Baker
  • Louise Thwaites
  • James Campbell
  • Ngo Thi Hoa
  • Juan Carrique Mas
  • Behzad Nadjm
  • Rogier van Doorn

PHD Students

  • Do Thuy Nga, pharmacist. Nga works on strategies to reduce antibiotic use in Vietnam.
  • Vu Dinh Phu, doctor and head of ICU NHTD. Dr Phu works on hospital acquired infections on ICUs in Vietnam
  • Hoang Thi Thanh Thuy, doctor and coordinator national MDR TB program. Dr Thuy works on improving screening for MDR TB in Vietnam.
  • Duong Bich Thuy, doctor from ICU HTD. Dr Thuy is working why antimicrobial resistance occurs in ICU patients
  • Nguyen Vinh Trung, veterinarian, works to investigate antimicrobial use in poultry, antimicrobial resistance in Escherichia coli in poultry as well as farmers and other community referents.

Our research locations

OUCRU is based at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in HCMC and the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases in Hanoi. In the area of antibiotic resistance we collaborate also with National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) and Hanoi Medical University (HMU).

Our collaborations/partnerships

  • Ministry of Health
  • National Hospital of Tropical Diseases
  • National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology
  • Hospital of Tropical Diseases
  • Hanoi Medical University
  • Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership
  • VINARES network of 16 Vietnamese hospitals
  • Sub-department of Animal Health (Tien Giang)
  • Sub-Department of Animal Health (Dong Thap)
  • Regional Animal Health laboratory (RAHO) 5, Dak Lak

Key milestones

We recently completed a national program (VINARES) to assess hospital acquired infections, antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance in 16 hospitals across Vietnam. We had a closing meeting in October 2013 with 120 international participants in Hanoi.

OUCRU is close to all the key national institutes in Vietnam (see partners/collaborators) and the Ministry of Health. These relations ensure that our research findings also find their way into policies. Our research in the area of antibiotic resistance supported the development of a National Action Plan on Antibiotic Resistance that was signed by the minister of health mid 2013.


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J Carrique-Mas, Nguyen V. Trung, Ngo T. Hoa, H. Huynh Mai, Tuyen H. Thanh, James I. Campbell, Jaap A. Wagenaar, Anita Hardon, Thai Quoc Hieu, Constance Schultsz. Antimicrobial usage in chickens farming in Vietnam in the Mekong delta of Vietnam. Zoonoses & Publ Health (in press).