By Wang Bixue, People’s Daily
The Law on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), China’s first special law on TCM, has provided strong legal protection for the healthy development of TCM since it went into effect in July 2017.
Thanks to the law, various TCM-related undertakings and industries in China have made significant progress, while TCM’s unique role in maintaining and promoting people’s health and advancing the country’s Healthy China initiative has grown increasingly distinct in the past four years.
China sees constant improvement in its TCM service system and capacity. By 2019, the country had 66,000 TCM medical institutions of various kinds, 67.4 percent more than that in 2012. Meanwhile, the annual number of TCM visits reached 1.16 billion and that of patients discharged from TCM hospitals and institutions across the country exceeded 39.5 million.
“My daughter has an upset stomach, Dr. Guo has been helping her ,” said a resident in Nanning, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, referring to a TCM doctor at the health service center in the community he lives in.
“We had been to big hospitals. But they have too many patients there, and the procedures for consultation are troublesome. So we prefer the clinic near our home,” the resident added.
The health service center was opened to help residents access TCM services near their homes, said Ye Haiyan, director of the center.
As a matter of fact, there are many such grassroots health service centers in China. According to statistics, 98.3 percent of the community-based health service centers, 97.1 percent of the public health centers in townships, 85.9 percent of the health service stations in communities, and 71.3 percent of the village clinics in China can provide TCM services for patients. All these figures have risen significantly than before, signaling an evident increase in the accessibility to TCM services, which means that more Chinese residents can now see TCM doctors and get TCM prescriptions near their homes.
The quality of TCM materials has been a matter of concern to a lot of people, as it not only affects the reputation of TCM, but its inheriting and development.
The disqualification rate of TCM materials in China has declined with each passing year, according to an engineer at a TCM material testing center in Longxi county, northwest China’s Gansu province.
With the implementation of the law on TCM, quality supervision mechanisms of TCM materials in China have been improved gradually. From 2018 to 2020, relevant authorities carried out random checks on an average of about 50,000 batches of TCM materials and decoction pieces every year, with the qualification rates being 88 percent, 91 percent, and 98 percent respectively.
Although it was Sunday on May 9, Gansu Provincial Hospital of TCM in Gansu was still crowded with patients. Wang Zili, an 86-year-old renowned TCM doctor of the hospital, was imparting experience to his son and students while seeing patients in a TCM workroom named after him on that day.
By continuously intensifying efforts to foster TCM talents, exploring and innovating TCM talent training model and deepening coordination between TCM education and practice, China has gradually formed a TCM talent training system featuring organic links between education in colleges and universities, education after graduation, and continuing education, as well as a master-apprentice relationship throughout the learning process.
As of the end of 2020, the country’s number of TCM personnel reached 767,000, and 0.45 TCM practitioners (or assistants) could be ensured for every 1,000 persons.
“One of our TCM preparations prepared with traditional techniques has been widely used in clinical practice in the front line of the battle against the COVID-19 in the virus-hit Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province,” said an executive of a pharmaceutical company in Gansu.
As facts have shown, since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, TCM has been used in every step of COVID-19 treatment and control and played an important role in the prevention and control of the pandemic.
The country has dispatched TCM teams with 773 members in five batches to Wuhan, and nearly 5,000 TCM medics fought the battle against the virus in the front line in Hubei, according to reports, which suggest that nearly 100 TCM institutions across the country have joined the treatment of COVID-19 patients as designated hospitals.
In addition, reports have shown that TCM has been used on more than 90 percent of the confirmed COVID-19 cases in China, playing an important role in the major strategic achievements made in the country’s fight against the pandemic.