Tibet's traditional herb-based medicine is experiencing a new boom with more talent being trained and greater effort being expended on research and development.
The Tibet Autonomous Region is authorizing the first group of distinguished Tibetan medical practitioners. A list of 26 candidates has been announced, including 21 active practitioners and five retirees, according to the regional government's health department.
The final list will be released after evaluation by an expert team, a department source said.
As an effort to foster talent in the 1,200-year-old tradition, the health department hopes to choose the practitioners who stood out in treating difficult and complicated diseases or developing traditional therapies, the source said.
These doctors will receive certificates from the health department and a premium, but the source did not disclose the amount. The list will be updated every three years.
Insiders said these outstanding practitioners would act as flagships, attracting more public attention and more people into this business.
Meanwhile, higher education on Tibetan medicine is progressing smoothly.
The Tibetan Traditional Medical College has given postgraduate courses since 1999, and 64 students have been awarded master's degrees, including 10 this year.
The college has also offered doctoral courses since 2004, and two students have graduated with the degree.
"This year, 14 students came to study for the master's degree and two for doctoral degrees," said Cering, deputy dean of the postgraduate courses.
These graduates contribute to the development of this old school of medicine in the modern world, he said.
The region has 1,850 practitioners, up 71.5 percent since the year 2000. There is one traditional medicine practitioner per 2,000 Tibetan residents, with 17 hospitals specializing in traditional medicine.
Tibetan traditional medicine is popular not only in the region but in other parts of the country and the world. The pharmaceutical part of the business was valued at 574 million yuan (83.2 million U.S. dollars) last year, a year-on-year rise of 1.7 percent.
To promote its development, doctors, researchers and businessmen teamed up to found an industry development association early this month.
The association, with the president of the Hospital of Tibetan Medicine Zhamdu as the chairman, will make proposals to the government on industrial development, management and related legislation, said a statement released on its founding.
It will work to boost investment in this industry, collect and protect historic documents and secret remedies and promote new technologies and products.
Research into this type of traditional medicine also drew investment from the central government. A program on technologies to apply Tibetan traditional medicines in modern medical practice was allocated 17.57 million yuan from the central budget.
It was the first program from Tibet to be part of China's state-funded National Key Technology Research and Development Program.