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Chinese lawmakers urge bigger role of TCM

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-08-29 15:15

BEIJING -- Chinese lawmakers are calling for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to play a bigger role in preventing and controlling infectious diseases.

TCM has been proved effective in treating patients of SARS, bird flu and other infectious diseases hitting China over the past 10 years, said Chen Weiwen, a legislative deputy from Guangdong Province, at the on-going bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.

Statistics showed that when patients suffering the H7N9 virus were treated with a combination of Chinese and western methods, the death rate was 9.1 percent, much lower than the 30 percent when using only western treatments.

TCM can help shorten the duration of a disease and improve patients' abilities to tolerate pain. The low cost of TCM can also help relieve the burden of treatment fees that patients face, Chen said.

However, the advantages of TCM has not been given full play in treating infectious diseases due to weak promotion among the public and a lack of regulations in the legal system, he said.

No TCM clinics have been set up in hospitals across the country, let alone treating infectious diseases, Chen said.

Zhang Jiyu, another deputy, said the government should issue regulations that encourage the training of TCM staff so as to promote the industry's development.

In response to the concerns, Wang Guoqiang, director of the State Administration of TCM, said the government was closely studying how to adopt the TCM approach at the early stages of treating infectious disease emergencies.

TCM has played an important role in preventing epidemics after natural disasters, such as strong earthquakes in Sichuan Province and mud-rock flows in Gansu Province.

Based on experience, TCM experts should be included in medical teams in the prevention and control of epidemics, which usually consisted of western medicine members of staff, Wang said.

The health authorities are considering building a nationwide network for TCM clinicial treatment of infectious diseases, he said.

TCM technologies will also be developed to control infections, including hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, Wang said.

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