Traditional Chinese medicine should play a more important role in China's strive to offer better medical services for the largest number of people in the world, Health Minister Zhang Wenkang said.
As a comparatively cheap but effective medical resource, the traditional Chinese medicine is vital to the country's more than 900 million farmers, many of whom still lack basic medical care, Zhang said.
More Chinese medicine resources and doctors will be sent to rural areas where people only spend 70 yuan (US$8.40) per year per capita, She Jing, director of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Administration Bureau.
Only 30 percent of the country's medical resources are in the rural areas where about 70 percent of the nation's population resides.
Most of the 25,000 Chinese medical graduates went to rural areas last year, and more practitioners will be trained to serve farmers in the future.
Meanwhile, more clinics offering Chinese healing methods like acupuncture will be introduced in urban areas, too, to satisfy people's increasing command of health care, She said.
She made the remarks at the opening of the 2001 National Traditional Medicine Congress Tuesday in Beijing.
The central government will create favourable finance policies to the country's 2,630 traditional medical hospitals, the majority of which are non-profit entities.
The ministry has decided to separate all 16,000 state-run hospitals into profit-making and non-profit ones. The latter, which enjoy favourable tax and finance support from the government, will bear much of the responsibility to provide basic medical services for the public.
National regulations over traditional Chinese medicines have been drafted and sent to the State Council for examination.
China's medical authorities encouraged the healthy co-operation and communication between domestic medical fields and the outside world. Traditional Chinese medicine has become a thriving worldwide industry in recent years.
More efforts will be made to collect and document the valuable traditional treatment methods from ancient books and well-known doctors, the director said.
Meanwhile, the industrialization of the high-tech traditional medicine items have been listed as a key task in medical development during the country's 10th Five-Year Plan period (2001-05).
With China's accession into the World Trade Organization looming, the country will fund more research on traditional Chinese medical practices to offer high-quality service and products both domestically and overseas, She added.
(China Daily 02/21/2001)