[health-vn] Move to preserve medicinal plants
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Sat May 23 03:16:29 EST 2009
Move to preserve medicinal plants
Scientists at the Medicine Institute are trying to grow rare medicinal plants. —
VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Na.
HA NOI — Rare medicinal plants are under threat of becoming extinct despite
efforts to preserve their genes and seedlings in recent years, according to
Viet Nam has almost 4,000 different medicinal plants and mushrooms that can be
used to produce herbal medicines, but the Ministry of Health has warned that
about 600 species of rare and precious medicinal plants are in danger of extinction.
Among the plants under threat are araliaceous bark, rhubarb and codonopsis,
which were all once abundant but are now listed in the ‘red book’ of endangered
Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said the plants were under threat due
to excessive exploitation and little effort by authorities to protect and
replant medicinal plants.
Health experts have also warned that the threat to the medicinal plants puts the
nation’s herbal medicine sector in danger of losing further market share to
Deputy head of the Medicine Management Department Nguyen Van Thanh said only
2,040 out of more than 20,000 medicinal products which have been registered for
sale in Viet Nam were of herbal origin.
While Viet Nam has been recognised as a country with valuable biological
resources, particularly with a wealth of medicinal plants which play an
important role in caring for people’s health, herbal medicines only contribute
about 10 per cent of total drug production value.
Preserving, exploiting and developing herbal medicine have been recognised as a
top priority. The issue was highlighted during a recent workshop reviewing 20
years of work on preserving gene sources and medicinal seedlings. The workshop,
held earlier this month, was co-organised by the ministries of Health and
Science and Technology.
"But this task has been implemented at a limited level," said Deputy Minister of
Science and Technology Tran Quoc Thang at the workshop.
Deputy head of the Medicine Management Department, Nguyen Van Thanh said it was
difficult to protect and control areas where medicinal herbs grew.
He said 53.5 per cent of herbal medicines were imported through small trade. In
addition, a significant number of contraband medicines of low quality was
available at local markets, said Thanh.
The herbal medicine sector also struggles to meet quality standards.
He said an example was imported astragalus, which had recently been discovered
for sale in an impure and unsafe form. Such problems adversely impacted on the
quality of herbal medicines, said Thanh.
The health ministry has asked pharmaceutical producers to guarantee the quality
of their medicines. Yet only 78 out of 300 medicine producers have met the
Government’s Good Manufacture Products standard. — VNS
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