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Confucius Institute makes push for TCM

Updated: 2012-06-06 11:50
By Shan Juan ( China Daily)

'Promoting traditional medicine will increase its acceptance'

A new Confucius Institute for Traditional Chinese Medicine - the first of its kind established with the cooperation of a foreign medical institute - is expected to open in September, said Gao Sihua, president of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine.

The institute, located at the Hyogo College of Medicine in Japan, will offer TCM, as well as health preservation and disease prevention studies in addition to Chinese language teaching.

"It's a win-win partnership as their advanced medical research capacities can help improve ours in TCM studies," Gao told China Daily in an interview.

Gao, an expert in TCM treatment of diabetes, said he and his family members seldom turn to Western medicine.

To date, there are more than 350 Confucius Institutes worldwide, including two specially dedicated to TCM studies at the London South Bank University and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, according to official figures from the Confucius Institute head office in Beijing.

"(This time) it's a bit different because it's the first time the Confucius Institute is cooperating with a medical school abroad," said Zhang Liping, head of the international cooperation office of the university.

By promoting TCM among future physicians in Japan, the understanding and acceptance of the ancient medical science in Japanese society can be strengthened, she said.

The institute will be open to both medical students at the Hyogo College of Medicine and medical practitioners there, she added. Student recruitment is expected to begin in September.

To make preparations, "we'll dispatch at first three professors. One of them will lead the new institute, and he or she will have a good command of both TCM and the Japanese language," Gao said.

He added that China still lacks talented people who can teach TCM with fluent foreign language skills.

"Senior TCM scholars are highly qualified to teach TCM, but they usually cannot speak foreign languages," he said.

"TCM is lost in translation," he added.

Confucius Institute makes push for TCM

Confucius Institute makes push for TCM


For instance, the TCM term ganhuo - which means a strong, usually negative emotional state provoked by the outside world - can easily confuse people with its literal translation "fire in the liver", Gao said.

"Terms like that will lead to misunderstanding and misperception," he said.

Apart from language, Gao also said that there are other major barriers preventing the dissemination of TCM abroad.

Cultural differences between the East and the West make it difficult to perceive TCM in the proper way, he said.

A Chinese TCM practitioner must be modest and prudent, Gao said. However, these virtues are sometimes misunderstood by Western patients.

In China, doctors usually tell the patient "You can 'have a try' on my prescription".

But some Western patients will take that statement as a sign that the doctor lacks confidence in his or her medical capabilities, Gao said.

"When I said that while seeing a British patient, he appeared quite upset and began immediately to question my qualifications," he recalled laughing.

Gao said that he is convinced that enhancing exchanges and understanding between TCM and Western medicine will be beneficial for both of them and in turn help people around the world become healthier.