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WHO endorsement boosts China’s positioning of TCM as $50bn global medicine market contender

China’s efforts to position Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as a contender to take a significant share of the $50 billion global medicine market are about to see a major payoff, reports the South China Morning Post. 

The Hong Kong-based news outlet reports that the World Health Organisation will include a chapter on TCM in the 2019 (11th) edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) – the first ever official endorsement of TCM by the WHO. 

A commentary in the journal Nature by David Cyranoski called the development “the crowing moment” for a committee of TCM experts led by Choi Seung-hoon, the former traditional medicine adviser for the Manila-based western Pacific office of the WHO. Choi Seung-hoon and his colleagues have spent more 10 years distilling thousands of years of knowledge about Chinese medicine into a manageable classification system 

Commenting on the influence of the ICD, Cyranoski writes: “The global reach of the reference source 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.”

Support for traditional medicine in China goes right to the top. President Xi Jinping has described TCM as a “gem” of the country’s scientific heritage and previously promised to give alternative therapies and Western drugs equal government support.

Last year China passed a new law that placed Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) on an equal footing in the country with western medicine.

The Law on Traditional Chinese Medicine was approved at the end of a seven-day session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), and comes into effect on July 1 2017.

As well as requiring training for TCM practitioners, the new law also made provision to protect TCM intellectual property and to protect endangered wildlife and plant species. China said at the time that it also wants to see increased international exchanges and cooperation on TCM.

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About the Author

Jim Manson

Writer & Editor
Jim Manson is editor-in-chief of Diversified Communications UK‘s natural and organic publishing portfolio. He’s written widely on environment and development issues for specialist magazines and national media, including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times, and World Bank Urban Age

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