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TCM Important for Achieving Universal Access to Health Care

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China needs to continue developing traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to help achieve universal access to health care, said Wang Guoqiang, director of the State Administration of TCM, on Monday.

China must take its own path to reach the goal as the government and public still face difficulties in paying high medical bills, said Wang when addressing an annual conference of China Association for Science and Technology.

China's medical expenditure in 2008 was 100 times higher than that in 1980, said Wang, also vice minister of health.

Tapping the potential of independent innovations of indigenous medicines will also lead to new growth areas in the economy and development of the biomedical industry, said Wang Guoqiang.

The official said TCM will enhance China's soft power and expand the country's influence abroad.

TCM is popular among Chinese citizens. Eighty-eight percent of people have received TCM treatment and 53 percent view it or the combination of it and western medicine as their first choice in case of illness, Wang cited a survey as saying.

Traditional Chinese medicines are mostly mixtures of a number of ingredients or medical plants such as herbs, which makes them much more difficult to explain and analyze in a quantitative sense than western drugs.

Chinese TCM exports were valued at US$1.46 billion last year.

(Xinhua News Agency November 2, 2010)

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