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TCM gives African students a healthy ambition

By Melanie Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-07 08:20

TCM gives African students a healthy ambition

Badrah Said Ali, 26, from Madagascar, is one of the African students awarded scholarships at Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine. MELANIE PETERS/CHINA DAILY

Two students from Africa mix some pungent herbs, one lot to repel mosquitoes and the other to ease anxiety. They are among a group of Chinese students learning traditional Chinese medicine at one of the country's top universities.

Vanessa Njifack, 21, from Cameroon, is a first-year student studying at Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine. Badrah Said Ali, 26, from Madagascar, is a third-year student at the university, which has 1,500 international students among its 20,000-strong student population. They are two of three African students awarded scholarships to study at the university.

Njifack says back home people "think Chinese medicine is witchcraft".

She hopes to change that perception when she returns to open her own practice.

"Chinese medicine is so special. It has many benefits and helps Chinese people live long healthy lives," says Njifack.

She wants to specialize in acupuncture, which she considers very effective.

Ali first witnessed the benefits of traditional Chinese medicine from a relative back home. "My uncle has a practice. He used acupuncture to help a cousin who was struggling to have baby. More people are enjoying the benefits of traditional medicine. It's less invasive than Western medicine and doesn't involve strong drugs with harmful side effects."

Both women had to learn Mandarin as their studies are taught in Chinese. Njifack and Ali have risen to the challenge of studying medicine in a foreign language, although Ali admits the workload of foreign students is double that of Chinese students, as they often have to translate certain subjects into English after school so that they can gain a better understanding.

Among other things, the university teaches acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, cupping therapy and massage.

Degrees range from four years for a bachelor's degree in medicine to nine years for a PhD. The university also offers degrees in pharmacology, applied psychology and optometry.

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