Investigation to diagnose nation's TCM resources, protect industry

Updated: 2013-10-18 08:37

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

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Investigation to diagnose nation's TCM resources, protect industry

Businessmen select materials for traditional Chinese medicine at a TCM trade center in Bozhou, Anhui province.[Liu Qinli / for China Daily]

China's top traditional Chinese medicine authority has launched a nationwide investigation into the nation's TCM resources, particularly herbs.

The move is designed to better understand the resources available, help enhance preservation and protection, and boost the industry.

The investigation was carried out on a trial basis in 655 counties on the mainland, and trials will be expanded to another 152 counties by the end of the year, said Wang Lian, spokesman for the State Administration of TCM.

"The investigation aims to address issues like soaring TCM raw material prices, deteriorating quality, and the information gap between TCM herb planters and market demand, and help stakeholders reach feasible resolutions," he said at a news conference on Thursday.

After 2007, the price of more than 500 common TCM raw materials went up, seriously disrupting drug supplies and market order, as well as hurting public access to services, said Huang Luqi, deputy director of the science and technology department of the administration.

"We couldn't even figure out the reasons for that as we had no idea about the current situation of TCM raw materials available in the country," she explained.

Huang Jianyin, deputy secretary-general of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies, said that without ample supplies and quality drugs, "how can TCM play its role in safeguarding people's health?"

Given that the last such investigation dates back more than 20 years, "a new round of investigation is in great need as TCM resources have changed a lot, such as in categories, distribution, quantity, quality and clinical applications," Wang said.

The current trials have looked at related studies of TCM herbs, herb planting information, TCM medical research, the market and industry information, Huang said.

To facilitate information collection and analysis, a databank has also been set up, she added.

But she also expressed concerns over some TCM resources that have been disappearing in the wild and urged the government and the public to protect them.

On Wednesday, the central government allocated 1.49 billion yuan ($242 million) to a subsidy fund to support the development of TCM through the remainder of 2013, according to the Ministry of Finance.

The fund will be used to promote research and development of TCM at the grassroots level, establish workshops for senior and famous doctors, construct special medical centers in rural areas and fund human resources training, according to the ministry.

The move came after the State Council issued guidelines on Monday to boost the nation's health service sector.

According to the guidelines, authorities are to utilize TCM in disease prevention and healthcare.