The Chinese government honored 30 experienced herbal doctors Friday for the first time for their contribution to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
The doctors were given the title "TCM Master" jointly by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the Ministry of Health and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
"The baton is now in the hands of us old people. We must pass it on to the followers in this marathon," said Li Furen, 93. who was among the honored doctors. The 30 masters are mostly professors at colleges or universities of Chinese medicine and range from 74 to 93 in age.
"Such experienced doctors play a significant part in passing on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) culture and promoting its academic development," said Wang Guoqiang, vice minister of health and director general of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, at the award ceremony.
The practice of TCM, evolved over thousands of years based on the observation of nature and the human body, includes herbal medicine, acupuncture, dietary therapy and massage.
More than 200 million people in China visit hospitals for TCM treatment every year.
However, questions about its safety have arisen in recent years, with some calling TCM a pseudoscience that should be abolished.
"There are various standards to judge whether traditional Chinese medicine is scientific. But one is for sure: whether the medicine can cure diseases and save people," said Li Lianda, an academician from the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
"Experience over the past 5,000 years has proved that traditional Chinese medicine can treat illnesses and save people," he added.
Vice health minister Zhang Mao urged the country to set up a health system in which TCM could exert its power to the fullest.
(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2009)