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China Unveils Plans to Boost Traditional Chinese Medicine
   2016-02-20 21:54:36    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Zhang Peng

A patient is stuck with the Sanfu Paste in a Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic in Zaozhuang, east China's Shandong Province, July 13, 2015. The Sanfu Paste, also known as dog-days paste, is a traditional Chinese medicine treatment. During the treatment, patients will be stuck with the Chinese medicine contained in the paste on acupoints during the dog days, the hottest and most sultry days of summer. This treatment is regarded to be able to cure such chronic diseases like asthma. Monday is the first day of dog days and hospitals are crammed with citizens for the Sanfu Paste. [Photo: Xinhua/Sun Zhongzhe]

China has announced that basic traditional Chinese medicine services will be available to all Chinese citizens by 2020.

This national development strategy for TCM has been discussed at an executive meeting of the State Council.

A traditional Chinese medicine service network will be established to help TCM departments across the country work together and pool resources.

Yu Wenming, deputy director of China's State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, says the industry support policy is expected to upgrade the TCM service level and bring healthcare convenience to patients.

"The comprehensive network will be based on traditional Chinese medicine hospitals, supported by TCM departments in general hospitals, primary medical institutions and clinics. The strengthened role of TCM services will bring more medical capacity to patients, which can help the system cope with the problems of high costs and doctor shortages."

Meanwhile, the plan also highlights that the pharmaceutical industry is encouraged to apply modern technology in researching traditional medicine, while hospitals and researchers are encouraged to use traditional therapies in treating complex chronic diseases.

Zhang Bin, an analyst for the TCM industry says the combination of Chinese traditional and western medicine will give a boost to TCM's development.

"The combination of Chinese traditional and Western medicine has complementary advantages. Western medicine has quicker effect for symptomatic relieves while the traditional Chinese medicine has special advantage in radical treatment, health preservation and dealing with complex diseases. The policy-makers have paid close attention to the importance of this combination."

In 2014, 530 million patients visited TCM hospitals, accounting for nearly 20 percent of total hospital visits across the country.
The average expense of TCM services is 10 to 20 percent lower than the treatment costs in general hospitals.

Yu Wenming says a two-phased plan has been made to ensure that TCM services have a bigger presence in people's healthcare.

"Basic TCM services are expected to be accessible to all Chinese citizens by 2020. The plan gives the first mention of providing 0.55 bed per thousand person in public TCM hospitals, and 0.4 TCM doctors per thousand person in all medical institutions. The services will reach a higher level and play a bigger role in ensuring people's health by 2030."

In China, the health authorities have set a guideline to provide 3.3 beds per thousand person in public general hospitals by 2020.

The plan also says that more traditional medicines will be added to the national list of essential drugs in China.

The TCM industry has seen a rapid growth in recent years.

China made 730 billion yuan, or some 110 billion U.S. dollars in the TCM industry in 2014. That represents one third of the total output of the country's medical industry.

Also, the number of traditional Chinese medicine hospitals in China has increased by 500 in five years.

Traditional Chinese medicine also has an international presence. Its reach has spread to 183 countries and regions worldwide.

Chinese pharmacist Tu Youyou's winning of the Nobel Prize for the discovery of artemisinin, a TCM-based drug widely used to fight malaria, has also served as a boom to the wider industry.



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