The advantages of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have been given full play to in China’s COVID-19 response as the country spares no effort to treat patients and save lives. The traditional medicine branch has been used in treating 92 percent of all confirmed COVID-19 cases across China.
The National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, comprehensively promoting the application of TCM in epidemic prevention and control, dispatched TCM experts to Wuhan, former epicenter in central China’s Hubei province for investigation and treatment at the first opportunity. It also established TCM teams to run designated and makeshift hospitals in Wuhan, treat patients and carry out clinical research, and explore a treatment model that is characterized by TCM and the combined use of TCM and western medicine.
Over 4,900 medical workers from more than 700 TCM institutions fought the epidemic on the front line in Hubei. They summarized experiences when treating patients and launched scientific research at clinics. Besides, they also enhanced efforts to select effective TCM products, timely promoted effective prescriptions, and advocated for early intervention of TCM in communities.
They constantly optimized treatment and diagnosis plans, and jointly formulated the third to seventh editions of the protocol for the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 together with the National Health Commission (NHC) that covered the whole process of COVID-19 treatment including medical observation, mild form, regular form, severe form, critical form and recovery phase. The protocols effectively reduced the morbidity, worsening, and mortality of the disease, improved the cure rate and accelerated the recovery of patients. The effects of TCM on COVID-19 treatment were forcefully proved.
Meanwhile, China has actively launched international cooperation on the application of TCM in COVID-19 response, contributing wisdom and power to the global efforts against the disease. It reinforced coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO) and included the application of TCM in epidemic response into the inspection scope of the WHO Joint Mission, so as to promote the effects of TCM and the selection of effective TCM drugs. It also published an English-version TCM diagnosis and treatment protocol for COVID-19, introduced the application of TCM in COVID-19 response at the Global Health Forum of Boao Forum for Asia, and held nearly 40 video conferences and livestream activities about TCM for exchanges. China exchanged views on TCM diagnosis and treatment protocol for COVID-19, effective TCM prescriptions and clinical experiences with 82 countries and regions including Italy, Germany, Japan, South Korea and Pakistan, and donated TCM products to more than 10 countries. Besides, it also dispatched TCM doctors to 27 countries and regions for epidemic relief, which indicated the sense of responsibility of a major country.
So far, TCM has been introduced to 183 countries and regions around the world, and China has signed TCM cooperation agreements with over 40 foreign governments, regional organizations and international organizations. China helped establish 30 TCM centers in Belt and Road countries and regions, and the “Belt and Road” Tour of TCM Acupuncture-Moxibustion has been held in 35 countries and regions along the Belt and Road.
As of December the last year, the overseas TCM centers and domestic bases had carried out cooperation with nearly 90 countries, launching a total of 388 projects and training over 13,000 overseas professionals. Fifteen Confucius Institutes and Classrooms for TCM are operational around the world, and 240 Confucius Institutes in 78 countries offer TCM and Tai Chi courses. The number of registered students have reached 35,000, and 185,000 people have participated in relevant activities. Chinese TCM colleges also launched proactive international education cooperation, enrolling over 10,000 TCM students from overseas. Full-time TCM courses are offered in some countries, and around 1,500 part-time TCM training institutes have been established overseas, training 30,000 TCM personnel each year.
As a traditional major country of medicine, China has always been committed to leading and promoting the global development of traditional medicines. In May 2019, the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision was approved at the 72nd World Health Assembly, which marked the first time that TCM was included in the ICD system. It indicated that TCM has historically entered the classification system of mainstream medicines.
Under the promotion of the Chinese side, the International Organization for Standardization established the Traditional Chinese Medicine Technical Committee (ISO/TC 249), and issued 53 international standards on TCM. The UNESCO included “Acupuncture and moxibustion as part of Chinese traditional medicine” on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and China’s Tibetan medicinal bathing also entered the list in 2018. Ancient Chinese medical texts Yellow Emperor’s Inner Canon and Compendium of Materia Medica were also included in the Memory of the World Register by the UNESCO in 2011.
At present, COVID-19 is still plaguing the world. China is willing to share its experiences in TCM treatment in epidemic response, supports TCM to “go global,” and will build TCM an international public product for global public health governance, so as to make its due contribution to enhancing the well beingwell-being of the people around the world and building a community of common health for mankind.
(Sun Da is a member of the Leading Party Members’ Group and deputy director of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine)
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