LIFE> Health
East meets West in a doctor's suitcase
By Jiang Wanjuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-12-16 08:15

It was like a scene from a movie. Ugandan dancer Phiona was performing at a star-studded event to celebrate her country's Independence Day when she was gripped by pains in her stomach.

The band stopped playing, up went the famous cry: "Is there a doctor in the house?" and sure enough, out of the crowd rushed a man with a case full of traditional Chinese medicine and drugs.

This was no local, however - the man rushing to the rescue was Iranian doctor Amir Hooman Kazemi. Out came the needles and minutes later Phiona pronounced herself free of pain.

"I was in such a bad way," she said of the episode at the Kempinski Hotel. "But he saved me with his needles."

A hospital check-up the next day confirmed her free of serious illness.

East meets West in a doctor's suitcase

A PhD Student at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Kazemi has been practicing TCM for the last three years at Guoyitang Clinic and at Dongzhimen Hospital, where he is affectionately known as "Bethune from Iran", after the Canadian surgeon who helped China so much during World War II.

You may have seen Kazemi hailing TCM in television interviews, volunteering at the Olympic handball courts or emerging from crowds at various events to give relief to those suddenly struck down by illness.

"At first, people didn't believe a foreigner could use needles (acupuncture), let alone prescribe hundreds of herb names that even most Chinese are unfamiliar with," says 32-year-old Kazemi, who has 10 years of medical experience in Iran, including three years' clinical experience, and a Masters' degree from the University of Mashhad.

"Once my landlord complained about his back pain so I suggested acupuncture. He laughed but agreed to let me try. After he found his pain relieved, he came back for more and also recommended me to his friends."

Kazemi was one of 10 medical specialists sent from the Iranian University of Mashhad to China for a four-year PhD in TCM between 2005 and 2009.

"We are probably the first group of medical specialists in the world to come to China for a PhD degree in TCM," he says.

His university in Iran will open a TCM clinic after they have finished studying. The government is considering building a school where Chinese medicine and other complementary medicines will be taught, Kazemi says.

For the past three years Kazemi and his colleagues have been fascinated by the extra dimension TCM gives to their scientific grounding in Western medicine.

Wherever he goes now he carries acupuncture needles and various drugs. "When I help a patient I feel I am a useful and important person - my patients' smiles are my best reward.

"I won't tell my patients that Chinese medicine cures all diseases. I strongly recommend Chinese medicine in treating chronic diseases such as strokes, cervical diseases and acne, but chemotherapy must be applied for severe cases like cancer and tumors.

"Chinese medicine can relieve pain in most cases but it should be complementary to conventional Western medicine - the best treatment is to integrate Chinese medicine with Western medicine."