TCM law pro­motes healthy progress

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By SHAN JUAN shan­juan@chi­

China’s first law on tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine was passed by the top leg­is­la­ture on Sun­day to en­sure devel­op­ment of the time-hon­ored med­i­cal sci­ence and en­hance the pub­lic’s abil­ity to ac­cess more qual­ity prod­ucts and re­lated ser­vices.

The law will take ef­fect on July 1.

“It is a mile­stone for TCM devel­op­ment as it’s rec­og­nized by law,” Wang Guo­qiang, head of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of TCM, said at a news con­fer­ence on Sun­day.

The law is also an in­di­ca­tion of pub­lic de­mand and ex­pec­ta­tions for TCM, which has proved ef­fec­tive but at times can­not be eas­ily de­fined or reg­u­lated by main­stream West­ern med­i­cal ap­proaches, he said.

“The adop­tion of the law is only a start, and more match­ing poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions will fol­low in the spirit of the law boost­ing TCM,” he said.

TCM long ago was the only treat­ment avail­able in China, but West­ern medicine first in­tro­duced in the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911) be­gan to dom­i­nate over time. In re­cent years, some have even called on au­thor­i­ties to drop TCM’s sta­tus as a legally ac­cepted treat­ment op­tion.

The law rec­og­nizes TCM as an im­por­tant part of the coun­try’s health­care sys­tem and en­cour­ages TCM’s devel­op­ment. It also al­lows it to be man­aged and reg­u­lated ac­cord­ing to its own char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Un­like many doc­tors of West­ern medicine, some TCM prac­ti­tion­ers learned their skills from a mas­ter in­stead of go­ing through a stan­dard school ed­u­ca­tion.

But “many do com­mand great skill. The law al­lows them to get a li­cense to prac­tice TCM and go main­stream”, said Deng Yong, a re­searcher of law at Beijing Uni­ver­sity of Chi­nese Medicine.

The new law stip­u­lates that prac­ti­tion­ers must pass ex­ams high­light­ing prac­ti­cal skills and treat­ment out­comes by pro­vin­cial-level TCM au­thor­i­ties, and ob­tain rec­om­men­da­tions from two cer­ti­fied prac­ti­tion­ers.

That’s a ma­jor break­through as “many com­pe­tent TCM doc­tors work un­der­ground since they couldn’t pass the ex­ams for med­i­cal doc­tors that fo­cus on West­ern medicine or the English tests”, he ex­plained.

The law also makes it eas­ier to open in­di­vid­ual prac­tices and clin­ics by re­quir­ing only the fil­ing of a record at the lo­cal health author­ity, in­stead of an ap­proval, he added.

There are 3,966 TCM hos­pi­tals and 42,528 TCM clin­ics across the coun­try with roughly 452,000 prac­ti­tion­ers, ac­cord­ing to a white paper on TCM is­sued by the State Coun­cil In­for­ma­tion Of­fice this month.

An­nu­ally, they re­ceive an av­er­age 910 mil­lion vis­its na­tion­wide, it said.

“The law will help bring more com­pe­tent TCM doc­tors to the pa­tients,” said Wang Guo­qiang.

By clearly set­ting the bound­aries of treat­ment, the law helps elim­i­nate fake TCM doc­tors who of­ten boast they can cure all dis­eases, Deng said.

“That pro­tects pa­tients’ rights and health and the rep­u­ta­tion of TCM,” he said.

TCM prod­ucts and ser­vices can be ad­ver­tised only with ap­proval from the lo­cal TCM author­ity, the law stip­u­lates.

To safe­guard con­sumers’ health, the law also calls for strength­ened man­age­ment and qual­ity con­trol over TCM raw ma­te­ri­als and re­lated pro­ce­dures in­clud­ing rais­ing, plant­ing, col­lect­ing and stock­ing such ma­te­ri­als.

Highly toxic pes­ti­cides can­not be used to cul­ti­vate medic­i­nal herbs, it said.

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