Chinese Alternative Medicine Popular in UAE
    2012-05-18 11:58:11     Xinhua      Web Editor: luodan
As modern diseases like obesity or diabetes spread in the oil-rich and wealthy United Arab Emirates (UAE), alternative healing methods from China find more and more followers among Emirati doctors and patients likewise.
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As modern diseases like obesity or diabetes spread in the oil-rich and wealthy United Arab Emirates (UAE), alternative healing methods from China find more and more followers among Emirati doctors and patients likewise.

According to Dr. Ayesha Abdullah, Managing Director of the Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC), "the healthcare of the future is a hybrid of conventional medicine and health and wellness centers." Around 90 outpatient centers are based in the DHCC. 2,500 licensed medical professionals work in the 2006-founded DHCC.

Chairing a forum on integrated medicine on Thursday in the DHCC, Dr. Abdullah said that the hospital free zone encourages the philosophy of alternative ways of healing which is based on self- reliant, life-style changes and prevention, values which are also essential part of the Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Medicines and nurses agreed at the forum that integrated medicine, which takes into account a patient's whole body, mind and spirit, is on the rise in the UAE.

In October 2011, Beijing Tong Reng Tang opened as the first clinic for Traditional Chinese Medicine in the DHCC. Its founder Dr. Deyuan Wei, a Chinese-UAE national, said that "the integrated medicine from the Middle Kingdom goes back to the year 1669 and it has been accepted through centuries because it puts the whole human being and his mind in the focus, rather than just his illness or isolated injuries or wounds."

In order to lure more Chinese clinics to Dubai, DHCC Managing Director Dr. Abdullah and her team travel regularly to China and organize roadshows in order to present the advantages of the medical free zone, where 100 percent ownership is allowed and tax- freedom is guaranteed.

Emirati national are enthusiastic about the influx of alternative medical treatments and Traditional Chinese Medicine in their country. "I use a creme made of Chinese herbals against muscle pain and I am very happy with this product because it does not attack my skin," said Majood, an Emirati nurse who works in the DHCC. "I also regularly visit Chinese massage clinics because the treatment reduces stress and I feel the good effect on my whole body and mind."

Majida, a young Emirati lady who visited the forum for personal interests explained: "I trust the Chinese way of healing because products used are 100 percent natural and most Chinese people are slim and become very old which is a proof for their healthy way of life and eating." She added: "I would like to see more use of Chinese Traditional Medicine so that we can reduce obesity and diabetes in our country."

According to the UAE Ministry of Health, obesity has reached epidemic dimensions, mainly due to a lack of sports and the vast presence of well-known fast-food restaurants in the Gulf state. Some 70 percent of UAE's 8.5 million people, of which four-fifth are foreigners, are classed as overweight. As a direct consequence, diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases are also on the rise. The UAE spends 7.9 percent of its GDP for health care, up from 5.6 percent in 2005, while neighboring Oman spends 1.4 percent as of 2010.

Dr. Andrew Weil, Director and Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Arizona, USA, who also spoke at the forum, started to study Chinese Traditional Medicine in 1970, and learned at Beijing's Guanganmen Hospital. Today, Dr. Weil is regarded as the father of integrated medicine in the Western world. Despite Chinese Traditional Medicine becoming popular, Dr. Weil sees still hurdles. "We need more acceptance of alternative ways of healing," he said. "Many clinics using conventional methods and the global pharma industry still hesitate to embrace this trend, although Chinese Traditional Medicine can even treat cancer patients."

But there were also critical voices at the forum. Dr. Abdlukareem Al Olama, Executive Director of the Center for Healthcare Planning and Quality, which regulates Dubai's health free zone DHCC, warned that patients should still look for good doctors rather than trusting anyone who claims to know how to use traditional Chinese medicine." In order to prevent fraudulent clinics from setting up in the DHCC, "we check the doctor's reputation, his academic record and even if he has a clean police report. There shall be no compromise when it comes to the well- being of patients," Dr. Al Olama, who is himself a surgeon, said.

Dr. Al Olama's medical field also shows the limits of Traditional Chinese Medicine. "Surgery or neuro-surgery is not possible in the integrated way. Acupuncture cannot replace spine or brain surgery" Dr. Weil confirmed. "But our alternative methods can be used in the pre-and-post-period of operations, a treatment which is often neglected in conventional hospitals."
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