The government is vowing to invest additional capital in
sharpening the scientific edge of traditional Chinese medicine
(TCM), and expects it to play a bigger role in improving the health
of millions of China's rural people.
The effort will also be undertaken to enhance international
cooperation on TCM research and to develop medicines to fatten the
pockets of farmers in the mountainous areas, said Vice-Minister of
Science and Technology Li Xueyong.
"TCM is low-cost and it should be widely used in rural areas,
especially in poverty-hit regions," Li told a press conference held
in Beijing Monday.
To achieve the goal, the Ministry of Health earlier encouraged
various organizations and individuals, both from home and overseas,
to open more private-run TCM hospitals in the countryside.
Li said the efforts can provide solutions to serious shortages
of fair and reasonable medical services and medicines in rural
areas, where 70 percent of the nation's total population has access
to just 20 percent of the country's medical resources.
Li said the strategy is feasible because TCM, on which the
Chinese people have depended for hundreds of years, has unique
advantages, such as lower prices and wide recognition
He said a total of 14 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion) has been
channeled by the government, research organizations and companies
into TCM's development during the 2002-04 period.
Officials from the National Development and Reform Commission
said the government will continue that support momentum through
Commission Deputy Director Qi Chengyuan, in charge of high-tech
industry planning, said TCM has already become a priority high-tech
development objective during the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10)
period. "It's a strategy which involves health care, poverty
relief, environmental protection, medicine export, and heritage
protection," said Qi.
Despite the efforts, some TCM practicians still meet many
difficulties in developing and reviving the country's treasured
Dong Zhenhua, a Beijing-based specialist on treating rheumatoid
arthritis, said she is willing to start large-scale production of
medicines in line with a prescription handed down by her
"But I'm afraid that the prescriptions cannot be well protected
if I submit them to the health and drug supervision authorities for
approval," said Dong, whose clinic is part of Beijing Chaobai River
Orthopaedics Hospital. "It is a matter of how to protect
intellectual property rights and the government should work hard to
find a way," said Dong.
(China Daily February 1, 2005)