The increasingly widespread resistance to antibiotics is a global threat. One of the most vulnerable countries is Vietnam, with 90 million inhabitants. In an attempt to change this development, the VINARES project was started in the autumn of 2012 led by researchers from Sweden, UK and Vietnam.
The first results of the project are now being presented in the scientific journal PLOS Medicine, with Håkan Hanberger, professor of infectious diseases at Linköping University in Sweden, as chief author.
The aim of VINARES, the Viet Nam Resistance Project, is to strengthen national evidence-based control of antibiotic use in the country. The project is being run by researchers at Oxford University Clinical Research Unit in Hanoi and Linköping University, in close collaboration with 16 of the country's larger hospitals, the Vietnamese Association for Infectious Diseases, and the Vietnamese Health Ministry.
The aim is to bridge the gap between policy and execution, which is the major problem in Vietnam and in many other low- and middle-income countries. Despite the ambitions of the political leadership, healthcare is characterised by insufficient infection control, insufficient resources for diagnosis, and inappropriate antibiotic treatment - all major factors driving the development of resistance.
The project got off the ground in September 2012 when directors, clinicians, infection control doctors, microbiologists and pharmacists from the participating hospitals met in Vietnam. This resulted in a division into three sub-projects:
Infection control and hospital-acquired infections. As the development of new drugs has almost come to a halt, it has become even more important to prevent the spread of infections. But infection control is poor, above all in the intensive care wards, where over one in four patients are affected by hospital-acquired infections.
Antibiotic consumption. By means of a database the control of prescribed antibiotics should be improved, a task which will be coordinated by pharmacist Ulf Rydell, a contract employee at Linköping University who has many years of experience of work in Vietnam.
Microbiological analysis. At present the wrong type of antibiotics are often prescribed as the doctors receive false information about which bacteria have caused an infection. In the project every analysis lab has been equipped with a computer and a programme allowing test results to be run through a reference database. This sub-project, which is very important in the allowing for evidence-based interventions, is coordinated by Professor Lennart E Nilsson of Linköping University.