WHO recognises Traditional Chinese Medicine for first time

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The World Health Organization will include information on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in its influential global medical compendium.

According to Nature magazine, the global reach of the compendium is “unparalleled”.

“The document categorizes thousands of diseases and diagnoses and sets the medical agenda in more than 100 countries. It influences how physicians make diagnoses, how insurance companies determine coverage, how epidemiologists ground their research and how health officials interpret mortality statistics,” it said in its September 2018 edition.

Chapter 26 of the compendium will feature, for the first time, a classification system on traditional medicine.

WHO has been avidly supporting traditional medicines, especially TCM, as a step towards its long-term goal of universal health care. According to the agency, traditional treatments are less costly and more accessible than Western medicine in some countries.

However, many Western-trained physicians and biomedical scientists view TCM practices as unscientific, unsupported by clinical trials, and sometimes dangerous.

In response, WHO told Nature that its Traditional Medicine Strategy “provides guidance to Member States and other stakeholders for regulation and integration, of safe and quality assured traditional and complementary medicine products, practices, and practitioners”.

It stressed that the goal of the strategy “is to promote the safe and effective use of traditional medicine by regulating, researching and integrating traditional medicine products, practitioners and practice into health systems, where appropriate”.

This article was originally published in the NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association publication, Lamp.

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