Traditional Chinese medicine saved the life of Anton Staudinger's father in the 1980s - so the German decided that more of his compatriots should benefit from it.
Staudinger opened a TCM clinic at Bad Kotztine, a small town of 75,00 people, 17 years ago.
Now it has grown into a hospital, the first and only government-endorsed in the country, with 21 doctors taking care of hundreds of patients from across the country and Europe each year, said Staudinger, its general manager.
In recognition of his efforts at spreading TCM in his home country, the State Administration of TCM and the Beijing-based World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies honored Staudinger at a special ceremony in Beijing yesterday.
"More and more people are turning to TCM when Western medicines fail; and in most cases, end up pleasantly surprised," he said.
However, "few people knew what TCM was when I started the clinic," he recalled.
"Even the small number of people who were familiar with TCM thought it was all about acupuncture."
Along with Staudinger, Ken Greenwood, who heads the Health School of RMIT University in Australia, and Dr Daniel Bensky from the US, were also honored for their contribution to promote TCM.
The chief physician at Staudinger's hospital, Dai Jingzhang, and 13 other TCM doctors from China were sent by the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine six years ago on a quasi-governmental cooperation project between China and Germany.
Dai noted the hospital was granted special permission to have doctors from China; otherwise, only those with German nationality are allowed to practice medicine in the country.
"TCM, which is safe, inexpensive and effective, should be popularized overseas so that many more people can gain from its benefits," Li Daning, deputy director of the State Administration of TCM, said.
Source: China Daily