Contemporary Medical System In China

March 30th, 2002

The contemporary medical system in China is an integrated medical system that combines both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine. Both Chinese medicine and Western medicine are playing important roles in Chinese health care.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (T.C.M.) has two main branches: acupuncture and herbal medicine. Each city in China has one or more traditional hospitals. The traditional hospitals mainly offer acupuncture and herbal medicine. I graduated from a traditional medical college in 1984 and worked for a traditional hospital in Wenzhou City for over seven years. Everyday over a thousand patients visited the hospital. Many Chinese people regard Chinese medicine as their first line of defense for maintaining health and fighting diseases.

Before 1920, there was no Western medicine in China. Chinese medicine was the only medicine the Chinese used to treat and prevent mental, physical and emotional illness. It must have worked effectively, for we know that China has the greatest population in the world!

Western medicine was introduced to China in the early twentieth century. In 1919, the Rockefeller Foundation helped to open the Peking Union Medical College, which was the first Western Medical College in China's history. Since then Western medicine has been accepted by Chinese quickly, and has fully developed in China. Believe it or not, today there are at least three times as many Western medical hospitals and colleges than T.C.M. hospitals and colleges. There are also more Western medical doctors than T.C.M. doctors in China. Furthermore, T.C.M. college students must study around 2000 hours of Western medical courses before they can graduate. When I was in the T.C.M. college I studied 4274 hours of TCM courses and 1977 hours of western medical courses which included: human anatomy, physiology, pathology, diagnostic basis, pharmacology, internal medicine, and surgery etc.

As we can see Western medicine is highly respected in China. A certain percentage of Chinese people have become Western medicine believers who think they don't need Chinese medicine anymore. Mr. Jiang Jie Shi, who was the president of the Ming Guo dynasty, was one of them. Before the communist party took over China, he moved to Taiwan and brought everything with him that he would need in his future life. But he regretted in his old age that he didn't bring a good T.C.M. doctor with him. For a period of time, even some Chinese Western medical doctors tried hard to get rid of Chinese medicine in China. However, after all these years, Chinese medicine is still standing.

Today more and more people in the world are becoming aware of and accepting it. T.C.M. can endure for thousands of years and never weaken or disappear. It must have a unique, special, healing power.

I would like to make an additional point. Chinese medicine and Western medicine are based on different medical theories and philosophies. They don't necessarily take the place of each other, but they can enhance the healing power of each other.