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TCM gets bigger role in health care

CHINA is taking stronger action to incorporate its centuries-old traditional medicines into the nation's basic health-care program.

The State Council pledged in a circular yesterday to enable every community and village health service center, at the lowest level of the program, to provide traditional Chinese medicine services.

It ordered local governments at county level or above to include TCM hospitals in their health service networks. County hospitals were also encouraged to set up traditional medicine departments.

Governments at all levels will increase investment in public TCM hospitals to improve facilities, support research and train doctors, according to the circular.

"Traditional medicines have outstanding advantages. They cost much less than Western medicines. They will fit in with the health service in rural areas and communities," said Ha Xiaoxian of the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In the circular, the Cabinet also said traditional medicines will be included in the state's basic medicines and that TCM hospitals will be on the list of designated facilities under the country's basic health insurance programs. The government also welcomed private investment in TCM hospitals and pharmacies and encouraged doctors to open their own clinics.

"Traditional Chinese medicine is a treasure of our people. It embodies the unique philosophy and culture of Chinese," the circular said.

The government also encouraged apprenticeships for training doctors as an alternative to medical schools.


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