Fellow Since 1999
Community Health Research and Development Institute
This profile was prepared when Yongyut Treenutkorn was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Recognizing that one of the reasons for the disappearance of traditional doctors has been the lack of institutional supports, Yongyut has organized traditional doctors in Northeastern rural areas into a support group to provide counseling and traditional treatment to the community. Currently, he has set up free clinics and training courses for over 150 doctors in six provinces in the Northeastern region. He also works closely with the Village Foundation, a donor interested in holistic community development, to set up training courses for traditional doctors in other rural areas throughout the country. He is the first to organize and implement successfully a regional traditional health training program involving traditional doctors within the community. Recently his training program has spread to the countries of Laos, Vietnam, and Japan. He has been conducting training sessions in these countries to adapt his methodology for institutionalizing and gaining recognition for traditional medicine. Yongyut plans to establish the first ever association of traditional doctors by 2001. The aims of this association are to obtain validation and official recognition of traditional medicine and its medical doctors; to transfer and develop the traditional knowledge to the younger generation of traditional doctors; promote and replicate traditional medical institutions; to institutionalize the traditional profession by gaining recognition and support from government sources; and to enhance the role of traditional doctors by encouraging their involvement in the social issues of the rural community.Finally, Yongyut is enhancing the knowledge base and resources available to traditional doctors by mobilizing the younger generation of traditional doctors to locate existing herbs in local and other communities, keep detailed records of their properties, and search for and restore lost species. In 1994, Yongyut and his traditional doctor group worked with the Ministry of Public Health to set up the first ever institute of traditional medicine, which recognizes the important contribution of traditional medicine in modern day medical treatment and serves as a clearinghouse of information and research related to traditional medicine.As a result, Yongyut is revitalizing local interest in traditional medicine and raising the self-esteem and confidence of existing traditional doctors and that of the rural communities towards traditional health care.