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China passes first law on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)

On Christmas day 2016, China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed the country’s first law on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
WebMD Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine

With a history spanning more than 2,000 years, TCM is considered by many in China to be a national treasure. For many years TCM was the only treatment available in China, but Western medicine first introduced in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) began to dominate over time, and in recent years many others have called on authorities in China to drop TCM’s status as a legally accepted treatment option.

However despite considerable skepticism, particularly by western medicine, TCM theories and practices, which include herbal medicine, acupuncture, massage and dietetics, have persisted and in certain cases even thrived. For example, TCM practitioner Tu Youyou won the 2015 Nobel Prize for her work using artemisinin to treat malaria.

The Law on Traditional Chinese Medicine

The new law on TCM is scheduled to take effect July 1, 2017, and will no doubt serve to promote further development of the practice while enhancing the public’s ability to access more quality products and related services.

TCM practitioners

Unlike most doctors of Western medicine, many TCM practitioners learn their skills from a master instead of completing a standard medical school education.

The new law will standardize TCM certifications by requiring TCM practitioners to (i) pass exams administered by provincial-level TCM authorities, and (ii) obtain recommendations from two certified practitioners.

TCM products and services

Although TCM has proven effective in many cases, it often cannot be easily defined or regulated in accordance with mainstream Western medical approaches. Additionally, the capabilities of TCM are sometimes exaggerated by practitioners, e.g., boasts by fake TCM doctors who boast they can cure all diseases.

Under the new law, TCM products and services can be advertised only with approval from the local TCM authority. By clearly setting the boundaries of treatment, the law will help protect patients’ rights and health, as well as the reputation of TCM.

Likewise, the new law on TCM also calls for strengthened management and quality control over TCM raw materials and related procedures including raising, planting, collecting and stocking such materials (e.g., highly toxic pesticides cannot be used to cultivate medicinal herbs).

TCM clinics

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

There are currently 3,966 TCM hospitals and 42,528 TCM clinics across China, with roughly 452,000 TCM practitioners, according to a white paper on TCM issued by the State Council Information Office this month. Annually, these facilities receive an average 910 million visits nationwide.

One Response to “China passes first law on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)”

  1. Michael
    November 18, 2017 at 1:00 pm #

    Regards. I appreciate it!

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