Experts and practitioners yesterday called for the expansion of traditional Chinese medicine's (TCM) global influence.
'The world is rapidly embracing TCM. It's like an infant who needs care, attention and guidance,' Michele Ball, a TCM doctor licensed in Toronto, Canada, and an instructor at the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, told an international forum in Beijing yesterday.
TCM belongs not only to China but also to every country, she said.
The forum on TCM's international presence was organized by the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SATCM) and the China Australia Cooperation Society (CACS).
The West considers TCM, which uses herbal medicine, acupuncture and massage, 'alternative medicine', but it has gained popularity in recent years because of its effectiveness and affordability.
'More and more people around the world are interested in TCM, which has become a major medical force,' SATCM director and Vice-Minister of Health Wang Guoqiang said.
Wang said in January that TCM had spread to more than 160 countries.
Australian Minister of Agriculture Tony Burke said Australia had introduced TCM-related legislation in the 1850s.
The US Herald Times Reporter newspaper said on Monday that TCM was one of the fastest growing forms of healthcare in the United States.
But TCM-related policies have not been adequately implemented and TCM's development has been overlooked, CACS president Deborah Lei said.
Curator of the Beijing Yu Sheng Tang TCM Museum, Bai Yang, said TCM needs more publicity.
It is important to inform Westerners about TCM, because Chinese and Western medicine have very different origins, Chen Qiguang, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' institute of economics, said.
US-licensed acupuncturist Shelly Ochs suggested the Chinese government shield TCM from westernization and promote classical TCM books.
'Westerners most value pure TCM, which is very scientific,' she said.
Wang said China's recently released medical reform plan gives equal weight to TCM and Western medicine, providing a good opportunity to boost TCM use.
Traditional medicine will play a prominent role in the country's new medical system and will comprise half of the new essential medicines catalogue's treatments.