BEIJING, March 22 -- China has pledged to develop globally recognized standards and improve the theoretical basis of its traditional-medicine practices.
The move is part of the country's efforts to build recognition of its long-standing medical heritage.
Sixteen government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Ministry of Science, released a joint plan yesterday to develop TCM through 2020.
Under the plan, the state promised increased contributions from TCM to economic and social development through scientific innovation.
The document said the country will endeavor to use TCM as a strategy for introducing Chinese science and technology to the world.
The country will also increase efforts to share experience between Oriental and Western medicine and to synthesize the advantages of the two systems for the development of Chinese medicine.
With a history as long as 3,000 years, traditional Chinese medicine constitutes a unique system to diagnose and cure illnesses. TCM has its origins in ancient Taoist philosophy, which views a person as an energy system in which body and mind are unified, each influencing and balancing the other.
As such, TCM emphasizes a holistic approach that makes use of acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage and diet.
A countrywide debate over TCM erupted late last year after Zhang Gongyao, a professor at the Central South University, called for the removal of TCM practices from the national health service, saying TCM is difficult to explain in scientific terms.
Yet a poll conducted by the China Youth Daily late last year found that 87 percent of the nearly 15,000 respondents believed in TCM.
"TCM is an inseparable and important component of China's health sector," the Ministry of Health said.
In his government work report delivered on March 5 at the opening of the National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao said the state would strongly support the development of TCM and the folk medicine of ethnic minorities.
Shanghai Pudong New Area government said last month that it will earmark at least 160 million yuan (US$20.7 million) to help build the area into a TCM production and culture base through 2010.
China is encountering other challenges in the development of TCM.
There are only 270,000 TCM doctors in the country, and only 30,000 of them practice it exclusively. Most are above age 50, according to Si Fuchun, an expert from the Henan College of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Source: shanghai daily