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A national programme for medicinal material development needed

Update: July, 13/2017 - 10:27
At present, Việt Nam has about 5,000 species of medicinal materials, some of them are of high value – particularly Ngọc Linh ginseng. — Photo

Tạ Ngọc Dũng, Chairman of the Vietnamese Association of Medicinal Materials, speaks to Hài Quan (Customs) newspaper on the need for a national programme for medicinal herbs.

Does Việt Nam have potential to develop medicinal materials?

Tạ Ngọc Dũng

Việt Nam’s biodiversity is very rich. This has been acknowledged worldwide. This is a good base for the country to develop its medicinal materials industry.

At present, Việt Nam has about 5,000 species of medicinal materials, some of them are of high value – particularly Ngọc Linh ginseng.

Addressing a meeting with the Vietnamese Association of Medicinal Materials on March 29, 2017 and an online national conference on the development of Vietnamese medicinal materials on April 12, 2017, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc called on the medicinal sector to work to turn it into a strong economic sector in line with its potential.

What Phúc had said has become a mandate and motivation for the medicinal material sector to work harder.

I remember during the years of State subsidy, we reaped some $2 million per annum by exporting Cao Sao Vàng (Golden Star Aromatic Balm). In return, we used that sum to import medicine to treat patients.

I still remember when an outbreak of   malaria was reported in many areas in the central province of Nghệ An in those hard years, all Vietnamese medical workers were asked to find an effective medicine to treat malaria patients. After two years of hard work, we successfully produced malaria medicine which was called Artemisinin from our indigenous plants - Artemisia annua.

At present, Việt Nam’s import surplus has reached the figure of 80 per cent. Solving this problem has become a headache for the Government and people working in the health sector. We, people from the Vietnamese Association of Medicinal Material vowed to make our medicinal material sector a strong sector.

Can you elaborate on your association’s plans to develop the medicinal materials industry?

I remember the PM’s order that the medicinal material sector should develop the industry in line with market demand. To do this, in my opinion, first of all we should conduct a survey on market demand. The next step is to devise a plan based on real market requirements and future needs.

Of course, our association cannot do this alone. We need help and support from other agencies.

Our association’s mandate is to produce more new products at high quality meeting the Good Agriculture and Collection Practice, HERB-V or Organic and others. In other words, our medicinal materials must be of high quality for our people’s health!

What do you think of the proposal to establish centres for processing medicinal materials in Việt Nam?

We recognise the importance of the medicinal material sector, in the present and for the future. With just a well known herbal medicines internationally, a country can become known worldwide, just like South Korea which is internationally recognised for its high quality ginseng.

Per the orders of PM Phúc, we will try to set up three medicinal material centres in the north, south and south]-central Việt Nam. Our association likes the PM’s idea and considers it an important tool for the development of medicinal materials

In my opinion, the three medicinal material centres will help speed up the development of Vietnamese traditional herbal medicines.

From our own side – the Vietnamese Association of Medicinal Materials will select the Hồng Đại Việt Company in the central province of Phú Yên as a centre in the central region. For the southern region, we propose either An Giang or Đắk Lắk; and for the north, we propose Sóc Sơn (Hà Nội). To develop these centres, our association will call for investment from people from all walks of life.

Besides planning to create medicinal material centres, in 2013 our association proposed a national programme to build and preserve our trademark of Việt Medicinal Materials._VNS

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