China launches plan to equate its Traditional Medicine with Western Medicine

Published on December 6, 2016 on:

Currently there are 3,966 hospitals dedicated entirely to this medicine in China with 452,000 practitioners and 910 million medical visits per year. The Chinese government wants it to achieve a better global position.

China has launched a plan for its Traditional Medicine to enjoy “equal status” than the Western one in terms of funding, academic development, and legal protection, said Wang Guoqiang the Chinese vice minister of health and family planning.

Wang made this announcement when he presented the first White Book on Traditional Medicine, which cites several projects to develop this knowledge precisely one year after one of its practitioners, Dr. Tu Youyou won a Nobel Prize for Medicine, the first to achieve the discipline.

According to Wang, that international recognition coupled with others such as the fact that Acupuncture and Moxibustion are Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO and that several vademecum compiled by Chinese doctors millennia ago are included in the Memory of the World of the same organization have facilitated that this discipline is at a “historic moment of development“, Wang said.

The White Book argues that Traditional Medicine, sometimes criticized in the West for its lack of scientific basis, “has had a positive impact on the progress of human civilization” and has shown its usefulness in combating modern epidemics such as influenza A, HIV virus (causing AIDS) or SARS.

The document abounds in that Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine “each have its strengths” and may be complementary, and so it urges for an increased cooperation between the two disciplines.

Traditional Medicine, as the White Book explains, bases its knowledge on trial-error with different plants and substances but also rests on Eastern philosophy, which revolves around the concept of harmony (this applies for example in the belief that to be healthy you have to be well inserted in society).

This medicine is usually more focused on prevention, and the Chinese who practice it often do not necessarily disown the scientific treatments born in the West.

Most often, Chinese patients often resort to “their” medicine in treatments of non-serious or chronic diseases for example pain relief but instead use Western medicine drugs and techniques in severe illness or emergencies as well as in surgeries.

This is influenced by the fact that the Chinese health system is to be paid for many citizens -although Beijing has promised to universalize its social security in the long run- since ancestral medicine is generally cheaper.

“Traditional Medicine emphasizes harmony, prevention, and a simple treatment for human diseases” summarized today the deputy minister, who denied that the discipline has become obsolete: “It has continued to innovate, strengthening its method and transforming itself”.

The White Book responds to the strategy outlined by the Strategic Plan launched by the State Council to develop Traditional Chinese Medicine between 2016 and 2030.

According to the document, there are currently 3,966 hospitals dedicated entirely to this medicine in China with 452,000 practitioners and 910 million medical visits per year, plus 752,000 students in nearly 250 training centers (most of them combine oriental with western science).

It also underlines the development of this discipline worldwide, where Acupuncture is recognized as a medical method in more than a hundred countries and 18 of them include oriental treatments in their medical insurance for their citizenship.

China has sent medical equipment versed in its traditional medical practices to more than 70 countries, with special attention to regions such as Latin America or Africa.