Viet Nam Country Package – Reducing Health Risks in the wild Animal Trade in Viet Nam

Wildlife is an important and integral part of biodiversity, which in turn underpins the health of human civilization. It is also the main source of pathogens, some of which have the potential to transmit to humans, leading to epidemic and pandemic outbreaks. Most human infectious diseases have their origin in wild animals. Ecological disruption, land-use change, and unsustainable food production enable pathogens to spill over. The trade in wildlife products further increases the risk of zoonotic transmission. Wildlife farming and markets also contribute to spreading zoonotic pathogens. Zoonotic viruses can spread in any setting that accommodates intensive human-wildlife interactions. The project aims to reduce health risks in the wild animal trade in Viet Nam through improving the policy system, developing technical standards on wildlife farming, and raising awareness among policy makers and related stakeholders.

Photo: Tony Pham

Knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards the risk of zoonotic diseases, wildlife trade and wildlife consumption in Latin America

Wild animals are an important and integral part of biodiversity, which in turn ensures the health of humans. They are also a source of known and currently unknown pathogens, some of which have the potential to become pandemic in humans. Deforestation, land use transformations and growing urbanization are causes of an increasing reduction of wildlife habitats. They lead to a closer contact between humans and animals and, therefore a higher probability of pathogens crossing the species boundary.
The project aims to identify knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards the risk of zoonotic diseases, wildlife trade, and consumption in different populations living in urban and rural areas, including indigenous communities, of Latin America. Based on its results, we will develop innovative approaches, according to local context, to educate communities, and co-construct behavioural change approaches to raise awareness and change behaviour in the population. For that, we will apply multi-centered and mixed methods along five work packages (‘WP’):

More information can be found here.

Photo: Hector Ramon Perez

Breaking the Chain of Health Risks from the Wildlife Sources in China

As China’s wildlife trade governance has undergone drastic changes due to the policy evolution as the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been growing concerns over the implications of the new policy moves on reducing the likelihood of zoonotic pathogens spillover from the human-wildlife interface along the wildlife trade supply chain.   

We will employ an evidence-based One Health approach to systematically embed public health risks related to the wildlife trade into governance and policy reform along the wildlife trade chain in China, empowering the government’s regulatory and monitoring agencies to help reduce the likelihood of the next pandemic originating from wildlife-related pathogens.


Mitigating risks of disease transmission in the wild meat food chain from forest to fork in Cameroon

Almost three-quarters of emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) originate in animals, with most of those coming from wildlife. The Congo Basin is considered a hotspot for EIDs and has already experienced zoonotic disease spill over (transmission of pathogens from animal hosts to humans) due to close contact between humans and wildlife. Hunting, butchering, preparing, and consuming wild meat are common in the region and present opportunities for pathogen spill over from animals to humans.

The general objective of this project is to understand the behaviours that may expose actors to different risks along the wild meat food chain in Cameroon in order to develop targeted interventions and recommendations for reducing health risks from handling wild meat. During the first year of the project, we used a mixed methods approach to collect data from hunters, food preparers, vendors and to better understand the behaviours of different actors around wild meat handling, and attitudes about health risks around the Dja Reserve and around Boumba Bek National Park. In the second year of the project, we plan to implement pilot interventions in two of the sites to try to change risky behaviours in order to reduce risks of disease from wild meat handling. The intended outcome of this project is to recommend activities and policies that can reduce the risks of disease transmission along the wild meat food chain.

Preventing future zoonotic pandemics: strengthening national legal frameworks and international cooperation

The overarching goal of the project is to establish a model for legislative improvement in the field of zoonotic disease prevention and control, which will be implemented at a minimum in three target countries: Angola, Botswana, and Zambia. By the end of the project, target jurisdictions will have additional knowledge tools (e.g., legal best practices, fact sheets, legislative agendas, etc.) at their disposal to independently draft or amend legislation and better control the emergence of zoonotic diseases. To have the maximum impact, the project will focus on three neighbouring states in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA), the largest transfrontier conservation area in the world. Legal development in this key area is expected to have significant regional impact, serving as a model for other African jurisdictions. The scalable regulatory standards developed during the project are also expected to be closely analysed and potentially adopted in other jurisdictions worldwide.

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Zoonosis risk along the bushmeat value-chains. The case of Salonga National Park and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

The link between wildlife trade, consumption and zoonotic disease outbreaks with pandemic potential has been documented by a growing body of evidence worldwide. Wildlife trade and emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) of zoonotic origin are of particular concern in the Tropics, and particularly in Central Africa. Bushmeat in the region is an essential part of the diet of millions of people, contributing 20–70% of all protein intake, with the trade of bushmeat estimated to reach USD 1–3 billion. A demand that is expected to increase concomitantly to the increase of the human population in the region. Kinshasa for instance, capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with an estimated population of 13 million inhabitants in 2018, is predicted to become the largest city in Africa and the fourth largest in the world by 2050, with 35 million inhabitants.

The role of unsustainable and illegal bushmeat hunting and consumption in species extinction is well known, as well as their cascading effects on ecosystem services and local food security. However, less is known about their contribution to the risk of zoonotic disease spread. And this, despite the fact that Central Africa has already experienced tragic examples of pathogen spillover most likely linked to wildlife consumption and trade, e.g. those causing acute outbreaks (Ebola) or with pandemic potential (SIV/HIV, other Retroviruses). It is therefore key to assess wildlife trade situations for risks of potentially serious zoonoses in order to inform policies to tightly monitor, regulate and control the consumption and trade.

The overall objective of this project is to identify and map the risks of zoonotic disease transmission in bushmeat trade along value-chains from a source to the end markets, i.e. from a National Park to large and dense urban areas. In particular, the project will i) characterize and assess the scale of the bushmeat trade between a National Park and urban centres, the species consumed and traded, the modes and drivers behind the consumption and trade along the value-chains, ii) detect and measure the presence of pathogens in bushmeat samples at various nodes of the value-chains, iii) quantify the risks triggering pathogen presence and loads, transmission to humans, and spread of infections to human populations along the value-chains.

Spillover Prevention in Indonesia with Outreach to the Southeast Asia Region

Cost effective actions can steeply reduce the risk of pathogen spill over and must be implemented rapidly in zoonotic spill over hotspots such as Indonesia to prevent us from the devastating impact of future pandemics. Additionally, as the outgoing President of the G20, Indonesia’s government has the unique opportunity to play a global leadership role and inspire other countries to implement appropriate policies and actions to reduce the risk of pathogen spill over. But there are several key barriers impeding Indonesia’s government from acting on spill over prevention. These include lack of a forum or process to bring officials together from different relevant agencies to collaborate, incomplete understanding of the policy reforms and actions that should be prioritized, inadequate human resources and expertise (e.g. vets), limited funds to monitor, detect, and rapidly respond to prevent or control zoonotic disease outbreaks, lack of a robust disease surveillance and response monitoring system, a weakly regulated commercial wildlife trade and a thriving illegal wildlife trade, and little civil society knowledge and capacity on One Health and associated aspects.   

This project aims to catalyse action by Indonesian policymakers to implement spill over prevention policies, including through strengthening their understanding of effective policy reforms and actions, and the dialogue among the relevant national agencies to effectively deliver these reforms. At the same time, we will raise awareness and support about spill over prevention policy reforms and actions among G20 leaders through Indonesia’s G20 post-Presidency, as well as in the ASEAN region and East Asia. It is co-led by Preventing Pandemics at the Source and the Wildlife Conservation Society in Indonesia, in partnership with ASRI.

Mobilising IUCN knowledge to support the development or updating of WOAH Standards and guidelines on wildlife disease surveillance, risk assessment and risk management

The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, formerly OIE) recently published its Wildlife Health Framework ‘protecting wildlife health to achieve One Health’. It recognises that animal (both wild and domestic) health, balanced ecosystems, and biodiversity contribute to achieving One Health. It also stresses that in response to global trends in disease emergence and biodiversity loss there is an urgent need to strengthen the wildlife component of One Health. The framework sets out concrete actions in order to manage the risk of disease emergence at the human-animal-ecosystem interface and to protect wildlife health, and stresses that the goals cannot be achieved by WOAH alone. It therefore identifies IUCN as one the key collaborators (alongside Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) that need to work with WOAH in order to implement the actions and achieve its goals. Through this project IUCN will coordinate IUCN Commission input to WOAH processes for developing or updating OIE Standards and guidelines on wildlife disease surveillance, risk assessment and risk management.  

Based on the mandates provided to IUCN through its Programme, and the WOAH Wildlife Health Framework, IUCN will work with EcoHealth Alliance, an IUCN (NGO) Member, which is a global environmental health non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting wildlife and public health from the emergence of disease. Together, they will work with WOAH to support the implementation of Output 4 of the Framework to ‘develop or update OIE Standards and guidelines on wildlife disease surveillance, risk assessment and risk management relevant to spillover events of pathogens amongst wildlife, domestic animals, and humans’. To do this IUCN, EcoHealth Alliance and additional expertise from IUCN Commissions (to be identified once needs are known) will engage with WOAH to help produce and disseminate guidelines on wildlife disease.  

A Transnational African Zoonosis Education campaign: Raising awareness for wildlife trade-linked health risks

Awareness campaigns aiming to reduce demand for wildlife and bushmeat are typically limited to conservation and legal aspects, while the dangers of zoonotic diseases are neglected. 

Our broad-based campaign aims to change behaviour towards wildlife with a new approach. The goal is to reduce the risks of zoonotic spill overs in five relevant African countries by creating public awareness on the ground for human health risks, linked to wildlife trade, and promoting the One-Health approach. We use and expand the existing experience and structures of education programs at five rescue centres, under different conditions (such as consumed species range, rural vs. urban target consumer groups, and responsible government agencies). By using a wide range of communication tools the project aims to increase awareness about potential health risks from contact with wildlife, to discourage hunting, trade and wildlife consumption, to suggest alternatives, and motivate responsible government agencies to initiate necessary actions. Creating a consortium of rescue centres and learning from each other will facilitate the exchange of knowledge, resulting in timely adjustments of education tools, and the development of new strategies – including activating influential stakeholders as multiplicators.  

As a result, we develop optimised campaign tools in a modular system that can be used individually or as a package also in other countries and regions.

Health Risks Associated with Urban Wildmeat in Nairobi, Kenya and Lagos, Nigeria

Wild meat is a vital source of animal protein for many communities around the world. However, trade in and consumptive use of wild animals poses several health risks to the human population, in addition to threatening global biodiversity. Since wild meat is mostly traded informally, and through complex food supply chains, understanding the potential impacts it may have on public health is notably difficult. This is so because the clandestinely practiced act has no clear food safety guidelines such as those governing foods from crops or farm animals. Several studies have documented the existence of pathogens in wild meat, as well as disease outbreaks associated with handling and or consumption of wild animals or wild meat. However, little is known about risk of exposure of humans to these pathogens along the wild meat value chains (VC). Few studies have conducted risk assessment regarding wild meat handling and consumption, but such studies did not use a VC approach for risk analysis. Regardless, data from mapping wild meat VC, even though limited, have been used to identify conservation entry points in West, Central and East Africa. It is possible that risk analysis conducted through a VC approach can help identify critical control and entry points for diseases into the human population. Our project therefore intends to use a VC approach to estimate the risk of exposure to humans of the pathogens along the wild meat VC in Nairobi, Kenya, and Lagos, Nigeria. Data on the structure and characteristics of the wild meat VC in these cities will continue to be vital in informing conservation policies. Most importantly, the findings from this study will enhance global understanding of existing food hazards of wild meat in urban centres, and probability of exposure to such hazards at the VC nodes. Such information is vital in identifying critical disease control points thus enhancing local, national and global capacity for disease outbreak prevention and control.