Updated: Feb 11
SEAOHUN is catalyzing innovation and collaboration across Universities in Southeast Asia through small grants support
In October 2020, the first batch of the projects supported by the newly launched SEAOHUN Small Grants Program began their implementation. SEAOHUN awarded 8 projects from 7 countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. To acknowledge high number of applications from Malaysia (53 out of 93) SEAOHUN awarded two grants to applicants from this country. The recipients will pilot their innovative ideas to advance One Health in their countries and across the Southeast Asian region. The Small Grants Program introduced in July 2020 was designed to give an opportunity for the faculty members from the network-member Universities to find innovative solutions to most acute problems related to One Health and to advance One Health core and technical competencies. This program also promotes regional and cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Two out of eight supported projects focus on training. In the Philippines, which has recently formed One Health University Network and joined SEAOHUN in December 2019, the small grant will be used as a seed fund to develop the first curriculum for a course on One Health for Master of Public Health and Master of Science in Public Health programs. The project team under the leadership of Professor Vicente Belizario, Dean of the College of Public Health of the University of the Philippines Manila, will also develop and pilot a short course on One Health for professionals working in various areas. After the implementation, this small grant project has the potential to be scaled up in the Philippines through engaging other Universities and adapting of the pilot course for their needs.
In Cambodia, a project team led by Dr Bunna Chea, Lecturer, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Royal University of Agriculture, will implement inclusive awareness training on Rabies among rural communities, including village animal health workers and health volunteers. Four out of eight supported projects are focusing on different types of research.
In Myanmar, Dr Mya Thandar, the Head of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health of the University of Public Health in Yangon, will lead a research on AMR in wastewater of Yangon region. There is no routine surveillance of AMR in animal and agricultural sectors in Myanmar. This study findings will serve as a good baseline data for the development of the national AMR monitoring plan on One Health perspective.
In Vietnam, a team of researchers will pilot and assess the potential of probiotic bedding usage in poultry farming to reduce environmental pollution. If demonstrated to be cost-effective, this project can be replicated widely by small farms with positive impact. The project team is led by Ms. Hoang Thi Thanh Huong, researcher from Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry (TUAF).
In Malaysia, a team will conduct a Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) study for alleviating rodent-borne diseases among public low-cost housing (PPR) community. This project is led by Dr. Farah Shafawati Mohd Taib, Senior Lecturer from the Department of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Faculty of Science and Technology of the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. The project aims to address the emerging issues of urbanization and PPR communities. There will be a One Health module developed for risk mitigation and health promotion, which can be utilized to scale up the health campaign in other low-cost housing communities. The other supported project in Malaysia is going to conduct bat coronavirus surveillance in Wind Cave Nature Reserve in order to inform the public on the diversity of coronaviruses found in bats from Sarawak. The project leader is Dr Cheng-Siang Tan, Head, Centre for Tropical and Emerging Diseases, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. The findings will be used to develop cave-based ecotourism guideline. Factsheets on the importance of bats and findings from this study will be made available online to provide first-hand information to the public, especially tourists visiting these caves.
Two supported projects use innovative approaches to improve policy regulations and build community of practice.
In Indonesia, the small grant project will contribute to the Indonesian strategy of controlling Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). The project team led by Dr. Teuku Reza Ferasyi, Director of Center for Tropical Veterinary Studies-One Health Collaboration Center (Centrovets-OHCC) Universitas Syiah Kuala, will revise, improve and disseminate the AMS Guidance materials for the three sectors (veterinary, human health, and livestock and fishery). They will also establish a web platform through which updated AMS programs can be shared in the future.
The innovative idea that comes from Thailand focuses on establishment of a community of practice among young researchers interested in zoonotic diseases. Dr. Morakot Kaewthamasorn, Associate Professor from the Department of Pathology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University will lead the project to enable young academic staff from different Southeast Asian countries receive a training on both conventional and molecular techniques in the field and in laboratory. They will also have an opportunity to further bond and form a community to exchange ideas beyond this small grant project.
All the supported projects utilize multi-sectoral approach through collaboration with relevant ministries, government agencies and community groups. Most teams engage faculty from different Universities, promoting cooperation and knowledge exchange between different educational institutions.