3 Dec 2009 06:12

State TCM body solicits feedback on rural practice

By Karl Zhong

Shanghai. December 3. INTERFAX-CHINA - The State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SATCM) is seeking feedback from its local branches on implementing China's rural TCM development plan from 2009 to 2011, it announced on Dec. 2.

According to the plan, key tasks include establishing county-level traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) hospitals, setting up TCM departments in township clinics, improving traditional Chinese medical treatment in village clinics, organizing grade three TCM hospitals to aid the development of county-level TCM hospitals as well as promoting the new rural cooperative medical insurance program.

The plan requires TCM administrations at the provincial level to hand out subsidies of at least RMB 500,000 ($73,206) to each county-level TCM hospital which develops a specialty clinical department.

Under the plan, township clinics will be equipped with devices necessary for TCM treatment and should each promote the use of 10 TCM therapy methods including acupuncture, moxibustion and gua sha. The SATCM and the Ministry of Health (MoH) will eventually issue a set of standards regarding the set up of TCM departments in township clinics.

Additionally, the plan states that village residents who have informally learnt TCM treatment methods but who are not qualified to practice should be encouraged to obtain qualifications and practice in village clinics.

"The plan covers major issues currently plaguing TCM hospitals in China including the development of TCM specialty services," an administrative official from Qiqihar Municipal TCM Hospital in Heilongjiang Province, who wished to remain anonymous, told Interfax.

"However, the government will also need to look into the low treatment fees for TCM therapy, which is affecting the development of TCM hospitals. Medical treatment fees will need to be raised unless the government is sure it will be able to devote enough investment towards TCM hospitals," the official added.

Local TCM administrations must submit their feedback to the SATCM before Dec. 11 this year, the announcement said.

According to the SATCM, 24 percent of the total number of township clinics across China are neither equipped with TCM departments nor staffed with TCM practitioners at present, while 70 percent of all village clinics are not equipped to provide TCM services.