Introduction to China's Traditional Medicine System

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, a series of principles and policies have been formulated by the government to protect and promote traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The policy of "Developing modern medicine and traditional Chinese medicine" was officially put down in the Constitution. To meet the needs of developing TCM, the state Council established the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine(SATCM) in 1987.

Basic Formation of Medical System

According to statistical data of 1993, it is estimated that there are now 2,457 specialized traditional Chinese hospitals including 39 TCM-Western medicine (WM) integrated hospitals and 129 nationality medicine hospitals. Traditional Chinese medicine hospitals have been established in 75% of the counties across the country. TCM departments, with 35,000 ward beds, have been set up in over 95% of the general hospitals. The difficulty to seek TCM treatment in rural areas has been preliminarily solved. Throughout the country, the traditional Chinese hospitals have 222,000 ward beds and 249,000 TCM doctors; and they have trained a large number of senior TCM- WM doctors and nationality medicine doctors. The hospitals have annually treated 200, 000,000 outpatients and 2,700,000 inpatients. Some hospitals and specialists have got great breakthroughs in the treatment of cardio -cerebro-vascular diseases, hematopathy, immunologic disease, cataract, fractures, acute abdomen, calculus of urinary system, tumor , dermatopathy, anorectal diseases, gynecological diseases and pediatric disease. TCM has not only systematic theory but also plentiful therapeutically methods including medical Qigong and dietotherapy. It is warmly welcomed by the Chinese people, and has attracted much attention from the people all over the world.

Fruitful Scientific Research

Since the founding of our People's Republic, the science and technology of TCM have gotten rapid development. In 1993, there were 170 research institutions across the country, of which 77 were independent.. In 1978-1993, 127 programs of scientific research won the State- level prizes and 482 programs won the prizes awarded by the Ministry or the SATCM. The research of Qinghaosu (Artemisinin) has opened up a new road to treat pernicious malaria. Acupuncture anesthesia, initiated by our country, has unceasingly got breakthroughs and is keeping at the top level in the world. The national general survey of herbal resources provided reliable data on the distribution and reserves of the medicinal herbs. The researches on the varieties of Chinese crude drugs provided scientific proposal for revising the national standards. Encouraging progress has been made in TCM treatment of tumors, cardio- cerebro- vascular diseases and hepatitis. By means of modern scientific technology, researchers have also got remarkable progress in the study of the implications and the therapeutic method and principle of Zheng-syndrome in TCM.

Vigorus Medical Education

There are 30 universities and colleges of traditional Chinese medicine and pharmacology (TCMP) and nationality medicines with an enrollment of 37,000 students annually. Along with the broadening of education reform, 14 professional undergraduate courses have been set up, and thereupon, the departments for doctor's degree and master's degree and the seven- year schooling system have been established. In last 30 years, 86, 000 graduates of university or college level and 1,800 postgraduates have been sent to society for medical services. In our country, there are 51 secondary TCMP schools engaged in training medical personnel for countryside and basic units with an enrollment of 29,0000 students. In addition, qualified staff have been cultivated through in- service training, correspondence courses, evening schools, tutorial education, etc. International TCM education has also made great progress. Many Asian, European, American and Oceanian countries/regions and organizations invite TCMP specialists to give lectures in abroad. Among all foreign undergraduate students and postgraduate students studying natural science in our country, the number of those majoring in TCM is top on the list. The Beijing and Shanghai Universities of TCMP and Guangzhou, Nanjing, Tianjing Colleges of TCM have become main bases for training foreign undergraduate students and postgraduate students. The International Examination Center of Acupuncture and Moxibustion has been set up in Beijing by SATCM.

Prosperous Pharmaceutical Production

There are over 600 manufacturing bases and 13 thousand farms specialized in production of traditional medicinal materials (TMM) . Following the development of rural side-line production and diversified economy, the amount of households specialized in the production of TMM is over 340 thousand, with a total planting area of 1,800 thousand mu. The total TMM planting area is over 5,220 thousand mu. In our country, there are more than 800 TCM pharmaceutical factories, with annual total output value of 13, 900 million RMB, production output of 200 thousand tons, production capacity of 400 thousand tons of 500 kinds of medicines in over 40 different drug forms. 124 TCM pharmaceutical factories have been recognized as big- or middle-size state enterprises. Some factories and workshops have come up to the GMP standards. 15 medicines won state golden medals, 77 medicines were awarded silver medals and 215 products got ministerial or provincial prizes.

Splendid Nationality Medicine

Nationality medicine and pharmacology is a part of traditional Chinese medicine. Many Chinese minority nationalities have their own medical theories and practices which have made great contribution to the protection of their people's health and the enrichment of traditional Chinese medicine. In order to promote the nationality medicine, Chinese government has set up many therapeutic, educational and scientific research institutions of nationality medicine in minority nationality regions of Xizang, Qinghai, Neimenggu, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Guangxi and Guizhou provinces.

Continuous Expansion of International Exchange

Our country has established cooperative relations with about 100 countries and regions in the field of medical treatment, scientific research and academic exchange. Chinese medicines have been exported to 120 countries and regions. In our country, 7 collaborating centers for traditional medicine have been set up by WHO. The World Federation of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Societies (WFAS) participated by about 100 countries and regions and composed of about 50,000 members, was established in Beijing in 1987. Twenty-nine countries and regions joined the World Medical Qigong Society founded in Beijing in 1989. In 1991, delegates from 40 countries and regions attended the International Congress on Traditional Medicine sponsored by our country, and jointly drafted the "Beijing Declaration", which gave an impetus to the development of traditional medicines in the world. Several dozen joint ventures of Chinese drugs and several scientific research centers have been established at home and abroad. Economical and technological cooperative relationship in the field of TCM has been set up between China and Japan, the United States, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Australia, France, Austria, the Netherland, Spain, Russia and Tanzania. Following the investment of Japanese Kanebao Co. Ltd. in the establishment of joint pharmaceutical factory in Qingdao, Thailand and Hongkong also set up joint ventures in China. The trade of TCM is continuously increasing. The total export value of TCM was 400 million US dollars in 1993.


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