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Traditional medicine gets proper prescription
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08:18, April 13, 2009

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Traditional medicines will play a prominent role in the country's new medical system.

Half of the medicines in the new essential medicines catalogue will be traditional Chinese medicines (TCM), officials said.

"It will provide a good opportunity for TCM's development," He Jinguo, deputy director-general of the department of planning and finance under the Ministry of Health, said in an online interview on Saturday.

The catalogue of medicines outline which essential medicines and drugs should first be considered for use.

Under the new plan, the government will construct more TCM clinical research centers and hospitals, organize scientific research on TCM's treatment techniques and promote TCM's development.

TCM companies and hospitals praised the policy.

"We are pleased that the central government paid attention to the TCM industry," said Wu Yichi, deputy general manager of Hebei-based Yiling Pharmaceutical Group.

"But I hope more detailed measures will be released soon," he said.

The basic medicine system will include a catalogue of necessary drugs to be produced and distributed under government control by 2011.

Wang Chengde, director of Beijing-based Shuntiande TCM hospital, agreed: "We are looking forward to the day when practical and specific measures will be issued."

He said the medical reform scheme was good but wondered how these general policies would be implemented.

Experts praised the policy but said the country's TCM medical system needs great reform.

Zhu Hengpeng, a researcher at the institute of economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: "Although TCM's theory is different from that of prevailing Western medicine, there is good evidence to prove its effectiveness in disease treatment, especially for those poor rural patients."

With TCM being affordable and convenient, it was easy to understand why government promoted it, he said.

Chen Qiguang, Zhu's colleague and the head of TCM situation research project carried out by the institute, said: "It is of great strategic significance to develop TCM for the country."

He said TCM medical institutes need to improve their management systems, instead of copying those of Western medical institutes.

"It's just like asking a Christian priest to administer to Buddhist monks," he said.

Source: China Daily

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