The Lao phrase for traditional medicine is ya phurn meung, which translated literally means "medicine from the foundation of the country". Lao traditional medicine dates back to at least the 12th century, when the country was united. With unification, traditional Buddhist and Indian medical systems were integrated into the society, quickly influencing traditional Laotian medicine. Allopathic medicine came to the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 1893 when the French invaded the country. Lao traditional medicine remains an important element in the prevention and treatment of disease (251).
Thirty to forty per cent of both allopathic and traditional medicines are produced domestically. There are seven factories producing allopathic medicines in Laos. Three factories in the Vientiane municipality produce traditional medicines. There are traditional medicine hospitals at all levels (251).
The Lao People's Democratic Republic has a national programme on traditional medicine with a five-year work plan.
The third in a series of national seminars on traditional medicine was held in February 1993 to review the use of traditional medicine in primary health care at the provincial and district levels. A draft national policy on traditional medicine was discussed at a national workshop on traditional medicine held in December 1995 and thereafter submitted to the Ministry of Health (252).
Education and training
In 1996, training courses were held in Sayaboury and Champasack provinces on the use of traditional medicine in communities (206). The courses were intended to promote the rational use of traditional medicine.