The northern province of Quang Ninh called for investments in the application of science and technology in herbal medicine production during a conference in Ha Long city on November 9.

According to Truong Quoc Cuong, head of the Medical Management Department at the Ministry of Health, more than 4,000 out of Vietnam’s 12,000 flora species have medicinal properties, making Vietnam a medicinal plant hub in Southeast Asia.

Nearly 60,000 tonnes of herbal medicine is used in Vietnam every year, while the country only has the capacity to produce around 15,600 tonnes and imports the rest from other countries, including China and Singapore, he noted.

Cuong said Vietnam should make full use of its abundance of medicinal plants to boost its pharmaceutical sector.

Deputy Minister of Health Le Quang Cuong said maximising Vietnam’s advantage in medicinal plants was one of the key components of the national strategy on the development of the pharmaceutical sector until 2020 with a vision to 2030.

The strategy states that by 2020 Vietnam should meet 20 percent of the demand for pharmaceutical materials, and meet 80 percent of the total domestic demand for medicine, with 30 percent of medicine made from medicinal plants, he said.

Currently, Vietnam has to import nearly 90 percent of its materials needed by the medical sector, he noted.

He also pointed out a number of shortcomings in the cultivation and exploitation of medicinal plants in Vietnam, including the unsustainable harvesting of medicinal plant resources, and a lacking application of appropriate science and technology in the production of herbal medicine.

The official said he hoped investors would get involved in the development of medicinal resources, thus providing more high-quality products to the market.

Quang Ninh has long been known for its medicinal plant resources thanks to its favourable natural conditions and expertise in using medicinal plants.

The province sells a large amount of herbal medicine on the domestic market, said Cuong.

At the conference, Quang Ninh announced the establishment of a steering committee for the creation of Yen Tu national garden to preserve and develop medicinal plants. It also granted licences to a number of investors in herbal medicine production.-VNA