The National Hospital of Tropical Diseases (NHTD) is a tertiary-level teaching hospital with sites in the city centre (Giai Phong street – Bach Mai campus) and in Dong Anh district (Kim Chung), just outside the city centre on the way to the airport. NHTD hospitals receive infection-related referrals from most of northern Vietnam and have close ties to the Ministry of Health (MoH). During the COVID-19 pandemic, NHTD Kim Chung was the main treatment site for severe patients in the north of Vietnam.
The National Institute for Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) is a major public health institute and also serves as the national agency for disease control and prevention in Vietnam under the Ministry of Health. NIHE was founded in 1926 and is a member of the International Pasteur Institutes Network.
All projects of OUCRU Ha Noi are administered through long-term agreements with these two hosting institutions and are directly approved by the Ministry of Health.
OUCRU Ha Noi was established during the years that a pandemic of a high mortality avian influenza virus (H5N1) was anticipated. A presence in the capital with proximity to national-level hospitals and institutes, policymakers and ministries, and other international organisations, including UN agencies, was deemed favourable for the programme.
The first director was Professor Sir Peter Horby (2007-2012), who went on to lead the ISARIC network and RECOVERY trial. He was succeeded by Professor Heiman Wertheim (2012-2015) and the current director Associate Professor Rogier van Doorn.
The research programme at OUCRU Ha Noi currently focuses mainly on antimicrobial resistance, including its clinical, laboratory, surveillance, community, and policy aspects. Other research focuses on the natural history of influenza through a longitudinal community cohort, national sero-surveillance for vaccine-preventable, neglected and emerging infections, and Talaromyces marneffei infections (see separate project entries).
OUCRU Ha Noi is based at the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases (NHTD) in Dong Da district in the centre of Ha Noi. We also have research offices and laboratory capacity at the NHTD in Dong Anh district, at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE), and at the Ha Noi Medical University (HMU). With NIHE, we have been conducting influenza household transmission studies for over 15 years in Ha Nam province and with both NHTD and NIHE community- and hospital-based research on AMR in Nam Dinh province since 2021.
OUCRU Ha Noi is close to all the key national institutes in Vietnam (see partners/collaborators) and the Ministry of Health. These relations ensure that OUCRU research can be informed by or conducted in collaboration with policymakers and that findings can find their way into policies.
Our research in the area of antibiotic resistance supported the development of a formal National Situation Analysis (2009) and National Action Plan (2013) on Antimicrobial Resistance that was signed by the Minister of Health in 2013 and, with funds from the UK government (Newton Fund and Fleming Fund), OUCRU Ha Noi contributed to the establishment of the National AMR Surveillance Network and one of three National AMR Reference Laboratories (at NHTD Kim Chung), both recognised by the Ministry of Health (2016 and 2020, respectively).
Through NHTD, OUCRU Ha Noi has also been involved in consultations with MoH on national quality standards, antibiotic treatment guidelines, management of Talaromyces marneffei, avian influenza, Streptococcus suis, and other public health issues.
OUCRU Ha Noi developed research programmes on antibiotic use in the community, antimicrobial stewardship in provincial and district-level hospitals and microbiology solutions to address antibiotic use and resistance. This had included a multi-country project to assess antibiotic access and use (ABACUS), intervention trials of the introduction of C-reactive protein (CRP) to bring down antibiotic use in primary and community health centres (the latter being the largest CRP trial ever conducted in LMICs), and studies on implementation, optimisation and cost-effectiveness of antimicrobial stewardship interventions.
OUCRU Ha Noi is running one of the longest influenza household cohorts worldwide in Ha Nam province, Vietnam. This cohort has been ongoing for over 15 years. Data from this cohort have led to new insights into influenza transmission, immunology and vaccine response. ‘Antibody landscapes’ derived from cohort residents, depicting the nature of an individual’s immune response to past and current influenza infections, have supported the immunological concepts of immune backboosting and original antigenic sin following first and consecutive infections with influenza viruses. These concepts may lead to novel ways of vaccination in the near future that we aim to trial in the Ha Nam cohort as well. As current influenza vaccination is suboptimal, this may have important public health benefits.
Recently, we have shown the difference in breadth and longevity of the immune response to influenza viruses following natural infection vs vaccination, supporting the concept of immune focusing after vaccination and necessitating policymakers to rethink the annual vaccination programmes for influenza.
Besides influenza, studies have also been conducted on other respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2 and the interaction between antibiotic use and the (healthy) human microbiome.
The reference laboratory opened on the premises of the NHTD in Dong Anh district, Ha Noi.
We set up an independent network of clinics specialised in sexually transmitted diseases to establish surveillance of AMR in Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Health officially recognised the national surveillance network for AMR.
OUCRU Ha Noi, together with NHTD and Oxford University/Public Health England and supported by WHO and the Ministry of Health, was awarded pilot funding from the Fleming Fund to develop a national surveillance network for AMR and a reference laboratory for AMR. We continued working with the VINARES network for this purpose.
A national programme (VINARES) to assess hospital-acquired infections, antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance in 16 hospitals across Vietnam was completed. This network was maintained for the collection of antibiotic resistance data as part of a Newton Fund grant to develop evidence-based guidelines for the treatment of infectious diseases. A Quality Standard was developed with the international branch of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE UK) and was reviewed and approved by the Ministry of Health, professional organisations and a committee with a broad national representation of clinicians, microbiologists, pharmacists and others. Data from VINARES informed the high-impact paper on the burden of AMR in 2019 (The Lancet, 2022).
OUCRU Ha Noi was one of the leading partners in a national working group for AMR with the Global Antibiotic Resistance Partnership (GARP). The resulting situation analysis of antibiotic use and resistance in Vietnam was one of the main sources of information used for the Nation Action Plan for AMR (Ministry of Health, 2013).