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Medicine of China's Ethnic Minorities Faces Challenge

While progress has been made in both the research and practice of Chinese medicine of ethnic minorities in recent years, their future development still faces challenge, said Wang Guoqiang, director of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SATC).

China has published over 100 works on ethnic medicines such as the Compendium of Herbs of Ethnic Minorities, a tome which documents 396 herbs of Tibetan nationality, 422 herbs of Mongolian nationality, 423 herbs of Uygur nationality and 400 herbs of Dai nationality.

Currently, 14 research institutes or universities offered courses on ethnic minority medicine to 17,000 students. Currently, 156 pharmaceutical companies specialize in ethnic medicine. In addition, by the end of 2006, 15 ethnic minorities had their own hospitals.

"The special curative effects and low price of ethnic minority medicine are welcomed by ethnic minority people," Wang said.

Tibetan medicine has marked curative effects in treating altitude sickness, digestive problems and rheumatic disease. Mongolian medicine was good at curing diabetes and blood disease.

"However, the introduction of Western medicine to China and therapies that combined Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine challenged the future development of ethnic minority medicines," he said.

Wang called for greater efforts to speed up theoretical studies and research of ethnic minority medicines. He also urged medical institutes and universities to foster more talents for ethnic minority medicines.

Currently, China only has qualification exams for practitioners of four ethnic minorities medicines -- Tibetan, Mongolian, Uygur and Dai -- and 5,418 practitioners have passed the exam and received their credentials.

China is home to 56 official ethnic groups. The Han nationality, the largest group, makes up about 92 percent of the country's population. The rest, 55 ethnic minorities, share China's vast land and maintain their own traditions and customs.

(Xinhua News Agency December 19, 2007)

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