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Rare Vietnamese herbs on verge of extinction

In Uncategorized on May 31, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Vietnam used to export traditional medicines, from the 1060s-1970s, but it is now entirely dependent on imported materials to manufacture drugs.  Meanwhile, some rare species of herbs have been on the edge of extinction due to brutal exploitation, the topic of discussion at a meeting on May 30 in the southern province of Binh Duong.


Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan presided over the meeting attended by leaders from the ministries of Health, Agriculture and Rural Development, Science and Technology, Industry and Trade and managers of pharmaceutical joint-stock companies.


Deputy Health Minister Cao Minh Quang said the World Health Organization listed 200 herbal remedies found out in the country in 2009, yet Vietnamese people only used 50% of their herbs, compared to that of 90% in neighboring China.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan(1,R) visits a booth of Vietnam Pharmaceutical Joint-stock Company (Photo: SGGP)

Moreover, only 1% of traditional pharmaceutical companies meet the requirement of the Good Manufacturing Practice, Quang said, adding that it means most of producers are private households, which fail to meet hygiene standards and use imported Chinese materials with unclear indication of origin.


The vast majorities of species harvested directly without planning, are partly responsible for the declining populations of several valuable species. According to currently available data, some medicinal plant species are nationally listed as rare or threatened within the Vietnam Red Book List, said deputy Agriculture and Rural Development minister Bui Ba Bong.


Agreeing with Mr. Bong is Nguyen Tien Hung, director of Vimedimex Pharmaceutical Joint-stock Company, said the company wants to make cheap medicinal drugs but the resources necessary for production are depleted. For instance, a population of pine power gold, a precious medicinal plant, and discovered two years ago in the highlands province of Lam Dong, was destroyed after just one month.  Now, it is difficult to replant since there are no breeding seeds.


Vietnam has been successful making herbal treatments.  For instance, OPC Pharmaceutical Join-stock Company makes Kim Tien Thao-Jinquiancao, proclaimed as an herb that is very effective in the treatment of urinary stone diseases.


Not only useful in making drugs, herbs also bring profits to residents of the northern mountainous provinces of Lang Son, Quang Ninh, Cao Bang and Bac Kan, who earn a living by farming the Illicium Verum plant whose acid shikimic is used to make the drug Tamiflu, used to fight bird flu and the H1N1 virus.


Despite its high economic value, no plans have been adopted to grow the medicinal plant for local use.  Rather, farmers harvested the plant unsupervised and sold to China.


Participants of the meeting proposed to work out a special policy for farmers who plant herbs with good consumption plans and making more drugs from medicinal plants. Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan ordered two ministries of Health and Agriculture and Rural Development to search for rare herbs in the country and called on the Ministry of Health to cooperate with the local government grow herbs in a sustainable fashion.

Source: SGGP

Dong Nai River on verge of death

In Vietnam Society on November 30, 2009 at 10:12 am

The Dong Nai River, which provides water for countless households in the southern region, has become extremely polluted in recent years. Unregulated dumping of household and industrial wastewater into the river is the main cause for the contamination.








Tan Van, a branch of the Dong Nai River, is extremely polluted (Photo: SGGP)

Sai Gon Giai Phong recently carried out an inspection at areas where wastewater is poured into the river such as Suoi Cai Stream, a confluence of the Nhum Stream in Binh Duong Province and Xuan Truong Stream in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc District. The water here was found to be seriously polluted.


Tran Cong Tuan, a resident in Thu Duc District who lives near the Suoi Cai Stream, said that recently the water had given off a foul smell.


Ten years ago, the river sometimes changed to a muddy color, but now it turns a variety of shades including red, violet and green, he said.


Traveling along the river’s upper reaches, reporters said they had difficulty breathing because of the foul stench of feces and garbage, which surrounded the water and floated in it.


Several industrial zones (IZs) and export processing zones (EPZs) as well as pig-breeding farms that lack treatment systems, are responsible for the river’s pollution.


The water is black at a branch of the river where Tham Luong, Ben Cat, Vam Thuat and Nuoc Len canals travel through several inner districts of HCMC and empty into the Sai Gon River.


Around Thi Tinh, a branch of the Sai Gon River, the water is yellow and gives off a terrible smell.


Responsibility shirked

Since 2005, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has held many meetings with12 provincial leaders to find solutions to save the river, but decisive action remains to be seen.


Deputy Minister Tran Hong Ha said that development projects combined with a lack of environmental protection has led to the pollution of the river.


The Dong Nai River system receives wastewater from the cities and provinces of HCM City, Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Binh Phuoc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Lam Dong, Dac Lac, Dac Nong, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, Tay Ninh and Long An.


Since the river runs through so many areas, no one has stepped up to take responsibility, said Mr Ha.


According to the ministry’s statistics, the river also receives wastewater from around 70 IZs and EPZs.


Of these, 15 are located in HCMC, 16 each are in the neighboring provinces of Dong Nai and Binh Duong, three each are in Long An and Binh Phuoc provinces, and one is in Tay Ninh.


The river receives 1.73 million cubic meters daily of household wastewater and 1.54 million cubic meters of industrial wastewater.


The above statistics do not include wastewater from tens of thousands of industrial production units outside the IZs.


According to research carried out by the ministry, the river’s lower area is the most polluted.


At some places like Phu Cuong, Binh Phuoc, and Phu An in HCM City, microorganism levels are 168 times higher than the permitted level.


In particular, a 10-kilometer section of brown-black water in the Thi Vai River valley is completely “dead.” The dissolved oxygen concentration (DO) is below 0.5mg/liter, making it unable to support any aquatic life.


Environmental experts say authorities must act quickly to save the river and the water it provides for the region’s citizens.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share

Rampant Arsenal on the verge of last 16 spot

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2009 at 6:53 am

LONDON, Nov 4, 2009 (AFP) – Arsenal are on the verge of booking their place in the Champions League knockout stages after Cesc Fabregas scored twice to inspire a 4-1 win against AZ Alkmaar on Wednesday.


Arsene Wenger’s side sit top of Group H with 10 points from four matches and can guarantee a spot in the last 16 if they avoid defeat at home to Standard Liege on November 24.








Arsenal’s Russian midfielder Andrey Arshavin chases after the ball against AZ Alkmaar during the Champions League Group H football match at The Emirates Stadium in London on November 4, 2009. Arsenal won the game 4-1. AFP PHOTO

Gunners captain Fabregas opened the scoring at the Emirates Stadium when his shot trickled past Alkmaar goalkeeper Sergio Romero.


Samir Nasri, just back in action after a broken leg, added to the feelgood factor when the France midfielder notched his first goal since March.


Another Fabregas strike soon after half-time was followed by an eye-catching Arsenal move finished by Abou Diaby before Jeremain Lens got one back for the Dutch champions.


After being written off as also-rans in pre-season, the north Londoners, now unbeaten in 12 matches, look in the mood to end their four-year trophy drought.


Wenger was full of praise for his side and singled out Russia playmaker Andrey Arshavin.


“It was a brilliant performance. We dominated technically, tactically and were never under threat. We played with confidence and overall I’m very happy,” he said.


“Arshavin was outstanding. He gave the ball every time at the fraction of the second you wanted to give it. That is top, top quality.


“I believe this season we are getting stronger from game to game. It is important to keep that attitude to progress and improve.”


Alkmaar boss Ronald Koeman added: “They have Eduardo and (Tomas) Rosicky on the bench. That says enough.


“The players up front are fast, technical and very strong. It is normal that they play better and have more chances than us.”


The Gunners were on top from the opening minutes. Robin van Persie almost added to his tally of seven goals in his last seven games when he took Arshavin’s pass on the right edge of the Alkmaar penalty area and shot just past the far post.


Romero needlessly gave away an indirect free-kick moments later by picking up the ball when a stray pass from Maarten Martens looped back into his area.


But from the set-piece, just six yards from goal, van Persie could only strike his low shot into the wall of Alkmaar defenders on the line.


Romero made a far more costly mistake in the 25th minute to hand Arsenal the opening goal.


Fabregas hit a low shot from the edge of the Alkmaar area but the Spain midfielder’s effort was weakly struck and should have been easy for Romero.


Instead, the Argentine could only push it into the net despite getting a full hand to the ball. Even Fabregas seemed stunned by the ease of the goal and could barely bring himself to celebrate.


Koeman’s side were struggling to make Arsenal’s defence break sweat and Nasri delivered the knockout blow in the 43rd minute.


He took Arshavin’s pass in his stride, completely fooled Hector Moreno with a neat check back inside and stroked his shot past Romero.


Alkmaar had stolen a 1-1 draw against the Gunners two weeks ago and Wenger’s men were clearly in the mood for revenge.


They started the second half at a blistering pace and Fabregas capped a sweeping move to claim his second goal in the 52nd minute.


Arshavin was the provider with an astute pass and Fabregas supplied a sublime first-time finish to put the result beyond doubt.


Wenger knew the game was over and he took off Fabregas and van Persie, to standing ovations from the Emirates faithful, to save them for Saturday’s trip to Wolverhampton.


But Arsenal kept the best until last. An imperious 72nd minute move saw Eduardo back-heel to Arshavin, who played a perfectly weighted ball to Diaby and the French midfielder easily side-footed past Romero.


Lens reduced the deficit when he beat Manuel Almunia at his near post in the 82nd minute but the damage had already been done.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share