European TCM Development and Promotion Center: International Platform for Chinese Medicine
TCM culture is a component and carrier of traditional Chinese culture. The establishment of the centre offers new medical treatment for Europeans.
Gentle ocean breezes from the Mediterranean Sea blow in the sunny seaside city of Barcelona, and a pleasant climate nourishes this land, making it a pearl of the Mediterranean region. As the capital of the Catalonia region, Barcelona is a charming city, not only world- famous city for football, Olympic Games and tourism, but even a city of traditional Chinese medicine ( TCM).
On January 27, 2016, the Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Administration Bureau and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy of the Catalonia Region signed a framework agreement on the cooperation of European TCM Development and Promotion Center.
Driven by the Chinese and the Spanish governments, the University of Barcelona, the highest institution in Spain, established a professional TCM major, which is currently the only major that provides a master's degree in TCM recognized by the European Union (EU). As Spain's most authoritative hospital, Barcelona Clinical Hospital also opened a “TCM Treatment Centre” with a total area of more than 600 square metres. TCM diagnosis and treatment cooperation can be carried out here, where TCM and TCM doctors enjoy
the same status as any other medicine and doctors. The two countries will work together to make the European TCM Development and Promotion Center an internationally renowned TCM brand and service agency integrating TCM treatment, health care, education, scientific research, trade, cultural exchanges and consulting. By promoting diagnosis and treatment of TCM and its social influence, exchanges between the East and the West in economic, cultural and social fields will be improved, and broader strategic cooperation on TCM application in the EU and the world will be achieved.
In May 2014, on the Second China Beijing International Fair for Trade in Services, Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Administration Bureau and Ministry of Knowledge Economy of the Catalonia Region signed a Memorandum of Understanding of the cooperation for establishing European TCM Development and Promotion Center in the Knowledge Economic Zone in Barcelona.
In November 2014, Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Administration Bureau and the Ministry of Commerce and Labour of the Catalonia Government in Spain as well as the City Council of Barcelona signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the cooperation of the centre in the Royal Palace of Barcelona.
The European TCM Development and Promotion Center is an international cooperation project; every step forward is filled with unremitting efforts and determination to explore for the Chinese and western governments. Starting in Spain, the project will spread throughout Europe, covering five areas. In education, the project aims to achieve cooperation between universities on two sides, carry out TCM education with diploma, train those skilled in TCM, issue official diplomas, and ensure that qualified graduates have access to the EU and professional physicians. In medical services, the two countries will jointly set up a TCM model hospital to provide TCM treatment services; health care, rehabilitation and other services will be included in the Catalonia regional health and insurance. In scientific research, the two countries will establish TCM research institutions in Barcelona, and gradually establish a database of TCM research literature and the TCM research laboratory to conduct systematic research on TCM. In trade, the import license for TCM, Chinese patent medicine, TCM granules and TCM certification should be obtained as soon as possible to promote the progress of TCM to join in the Spanish basic medical system, and help TCM enter the EU market. In culture, the two countries will establish a TCM cultural exchange centre in Barcelona, create a platform for international exchanges of TCM culture, carry out publicity campaigns on culture in medicine, food, health, leisure and so on. Taking the TCM industry as a centre of influence, the two countries will promote development of tourism, the culture industry, service industry and other related industries to better serve economic development.
“TCM can best reflect the core of Chinese culture; it is also an important carrier of culture. TCM'S global journey is of great significance for the Sino-eu cultural exchanges and cooperation.” The deputy director of Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Administration Bureau said that after our country issued the Belt and Road strategy, they also put forward a similar development strategy for TCM to help establish overseas TCM centres and promote TCM at a national level. “The cooperation has very good prospects.”
Previously, TCM has been spread to 183 countries and regions. China and foreign governments, regional and international organisation have signed 86 TCM cooperation agreements. The project of European TCM Development and Promotion Center adheres to the Belt and Road principles, sharing and building together, and follows in the Silk Road spirit of peaceful cooperation, openness and tolerance, mutual learning and mutual benefits. Therefore, it has become a high-profile international cooperation TCM project.
Solve Difficult Diseases, Benefit People
As the first sub-project, TCM Master Program was launched on October 21, 2016. This program was jointly launched by Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, University of Barcelona and Universitat Pompeu Fabra. After two years of study and passing the graduation thesis defence, students will receive the master's degree
of TCM officially recognised by Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and University of Barcelona and Universitat Pompeu Fabra. It is also the only master's degree programme in Chinese medicine now officially recognised by the EU. At present, the first students are all Spanish doctors in Western medicine who have completed courses including basic theory of TCM, diagnostics, meridians, acupuncture, moxibustion and others.
Can native doctors trained in Western medicine accept TCM culture, or even go beyond the differences between Chinese and Western medicine in the learning process? This dilemma has always concerned project director Li Jiangbin at the European Development and Promotion Centre of Traditional Chinese Medicine. After a team of teachers in Barcelona from Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine sent back information, his concerns were dispelled.
“Europe has evidence-based medicine. Traditional medicine from different countries converge there.” Li Jiangbin explained with interest, “These students have rich clinical experience in Western medicine and they will bring clinical problems to the classroom. Problems such as chronic diseases, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, rehabilitation therapy and so on are difficult to solve with Western medicine but are easier solved with TCM.
Western doctors are willing to learn TCM as an alternative. To provide the best quality teachers to local graduate students, China has sent leading teachers from Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine to teach in English.
TCM is not only favoured by the medical doctors in Spain, but also needed by local people. As a cooperative unit of the project, Barcelona Clinical Hospital will launch Chinese medicine outpatient service in June this year. At this stage, the outpatient services mainly include acupuncture, massage and rehabilitation, with a ward covering an area of 665 square metres.
“Barcelona Clinical Hospital is Spain's number one hospital. Locals are convinced due to new services from such an authoritative hospital. People always ask about when a Chinese medicine clinic would open and whether they can enjoy the new service.” Li Jiangbin said.
After opening the Chinese medicine clinic and ward, the medical expenses will be gradually incorporated into local health insurance, so that local people can enjoy the benefits of TCM treatments. Li said that the first step is to let people who have private health insurance and a part of those who have the commercial insurance enjoy TCM services; then, we have negotiated with the local people, and agreed that expenses of treating these diseases with evidential effects can be incorporated into local health insurance after simple verification, so that even ordinary patients can enjoy these services. “This step must be completed this year”; the third step is to follow up with effective Chinese diseases. Every time when a new disease is discovered, clinical research will be carried out simultaneously, and their efficacy will be confirmed under mutual supervision so that expenses can be incorporated into health insurance.
Local Development Earns Trust
As an important part of the project, the establishment of Joint Research Centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine is the first step in the TCM research, including the establishment of cooperation platform for TCM research, joint laboratories and post-doctoral workstations. Research of TCM intervention therapy for major diseases should be carried out to promote its application in the EU public health system. In-depth studies of Chinese herbal medicine cultivation, pharmacology, application, innovation, conversion and other aspects allowing Chinese herbal medicine to be certified in Europe, documented in pharmacopoeia and widely used. This also helps Chinese herbal medicine enter the EU market, leading scientific research, personnel training and business cooperation in the field. At present, conversations have been carried out with the Research Centre of University of Barcelona, Barcelona Agricultural Genomics Research Centre, School of Pharmacy of Barcelona University and other research centres, with preliminary consensus reached on establishing joint research centres and laboratories.
Local scientific data is obtained through the scientific research and clinical trials in Spain, so that TCM can achieve effect in local
settings under the mutual supervision of both sides. Therefore, TCM will gain a high degree of trust among locals, and pharmaceutical dosage and treatment methods will change accordingly.
At this stage, several units were involved in the project in Spain, particularly in cooperation with Barcelona Agricultural Genomics Research Centre on agriculture to study the conversion of local herbs into TCM. They facilitate the cultivation of Chinese herbal medicine and the establishment of local Chinese pharmaceutical companies.
Li Jiangbin said, “The localisation of TCM is important because it can reduce costs while winning the trust of the people. Through education, the localisation of doctors can be achieved, and people can enjoy a high efficiency and low price service model; through incorporating the diagnosis and treatment fees into insurance, the localisation of medical system can be achieved, and everybody can enjoy TCM; through scientific research, the localisation of Chinese herbal medicine cultivation and production can be achieved, the costs can be reduced effectively, and new markets can be opened up. China and Spain can achieve win-win cooperation.”
Cultural Exchange with Advanced Model
The culture of TCM is an important part and a carrier of Chinese traditional culture, containing a Chinese understanding of the world and their traditional philosophy. The European TCM Development and Promotion Center is not only a TCM service organisation, but provides new medical methods for Europeans, but also forms a new base of local medical knowledge, thereby providing a path for others to understand Chinese culture.
Project investor Zhang Yang believes why such a large and complex project can progress so smoothly is because of the adoption of PPP (Public-private Partnership). The government has issued policies to guide overall coordination of various resources and manpower, and built a broad platform for investors. Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Administration Bureau has gathered professional staff and scientific research done at the Beijing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing Kuanjie Hospital of Chinese Medicine, and China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences to support the project. The Barcelona Government has also integrated resources from the University of Barcelona and Barcelona Hospital, and provided land, office space, preferential policies, and other commercial interfaces. The project quickly connects Chinese herbal plantations, tourism and education of Chinese medicine, research and training, soon to create value.
“With the implementation of the project, we have learned valuable lessons. First, westerners' need for Chinese medicine has put more confidence in Chinese. Compared with the state government, the promotion of TCM by the local government is a worthy choice because it is much easier; second, compared with the original promotion that is purely driven by the private capital, the integration of medicine, teaching and research is more desirable; third, at this stage, the PPP model is the only right choice for TCM to enter foreign countries. The signed agreements between the countries in the past were unable to be executed because there was no social capital. Now, with the follow-up of capital and integration of resources, the implementation will be better.” Li Jiangbin said.
With an excellent model, TCM culture is bound to be irresistible in Europe. TCM legislation and its legal status have now been put on the agenda. Ideas of overseas rehabilitation, traditional Chinese medical tourism, and TCM museums will also be put into practice.
“When our project has earned certain reputation and demonstrated influence, we can slowly step out of Spain, and the successful model can be copied directly to cover the whole Europe.” Li Jiangbin introduced with excitement. In the second round of preenrolment for a TCM study, 30 students were received. Some of them are even from other Spanish speaking countries like Colombia and Cuba. In the future, Chinese medicine will spread to French and English-speaking areas.
The core of the Belt and Road is the connection of the people's hearts and the connection of the roads, further establishing ties between China and the world and strengthening exchanges. The European TCM Development and Promotion Center will promote China's global influence and the economic and cultural development of local areas. Europeans will soon enjoy unlimited benefits through this project, with traditional Chinese culture gaining more influence in the western world.
The Beijing TCM delegation negotiates with Spanish government officials and experts.
The European TCM Development and Promotion Center Project Office was founded.
A conference on TCM