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Left: materials developed with the National Centre for Health Communication and Education and (right) some of the Traditional Medicine

Training for traditional medicine practitioners

Left: materials developed with the National Centre for Health Communication and Education and (right) some of the Traditional Medicine "champions" trained © TRAFFIC

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Published 29th November 2016

Prescribing the balance of nature to traditional medicine schools

Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, 29th November 2016—50 leaders and lecturers at Traditional Medicine (TM) schools and universities will help instill the next generation of TM practitioners with an attitude of zero-tolerance towards the consumption of threatened animals and plants in their TM practices following two workshops held recently in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City.


TRAFFIC and the National Centre for Health Communication and Education (T5G) held training sessions for TM leaders and educators as part of their ongoing efforts to reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products, such as rhino horn. Following the training, these 50 “champions” will engage more than 3,000 students, other lecturers and TM practitioners throughout Viet Nam to promote legal and sustainably sourced traditional medicine products. 

Mr Trang Quang Mai, Deputy Director of T5G said, “The Ministry of Health has already removed many illegal or unsustainable products, such as rhino horn, from the TM Pharmacopeia. However, we are still trying to eliminate all illegal and threatened wildlife from the TM sector.  The tools we are giving the workshop attendees will help us reach our goal of eradicating illegal wildlife in Vietnamese traditional medicine.”

During the workshops, the illegality of rhino horn and certain other animal products in traditional medicine was discussed. Facilitators outlined the reasons why TM practitioners need to avoid prescribing and consuming these species, especially to ensure the TM sector and TM practitioners in Viet Nam maintain a respectable reputation.

“With the harsher penalties of the new penal code, the TM community must be proactive and abolish the use of illegal wildlife products,” said Madelon Willemsen, Head of TRAFFIC's Viet Nam Office. 

TRAFFIC and T5G are holding this workshop to ensure that TM practitioners protect themselves from the risks associated with illegal wildlife trade by implementing socially responsible practices

Madelon Willemsen, Head of TRAFFIC's Viet Nam Office.

“The commitment from these universities to protect threatened wildlife is a crucial element of our strategy to reduce demand for illegal wildlife products, such as rhino horn. University lecturers and students as well as the wider TM community, will be able to use a communications package developed by TRAFFIC and T5G to integrate wildlife protection into their activities and offer alternatives to illegal wildlife products.”

TRAFFIC, with funding from the Peace Parks Foundation, is using an evidence-based approach to reducing the demand for illegal wildlife products. TRAFFIC identified the traditional medicine community as a key sector to engage with because of the potential for prescription and consumption of illegal wildlife products.  

In 2014, TRAFFIC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Health to combat illegal wildlife trade over a five-year period. T5G, which is a department of the Ministry of Health, began working with TRAFFIC in 2015 to help change the behaviour of traditional medicine practitioners and protect local and global biodiversity. 

TRAFFIC is engaging different areas of Vietnamese society, such as the TM sector and business communities, to reject wildlife that is illegally traded.  By shifting consumer behaviour away from threatened wildlife, TRAFFIC augments law enforcement efforts to stop illegal trade. This workshop is an element of TRAFFIC’s two-tiered approach of reducing demand while raising barriers for consumption.