Chinese lawmakers are calling for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to play a bigger role in preventing and controlling infectious diseases.
TCM has been proved effective in treating patients of SARS, bird flu and other infectious diseases hitting China over the past 10 years, said Chen Weiwen, a legislative deputy from Guangdong Province, at the on-going bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee.
Statistics showed that when patients suffering the H7N9 virus were treated with a combination of Chinese and western methods, the death rate was 9.1 percent, much lower than the 30 percent when using only western treatments.
TCM can help shorten the duration of a disease and improve patients' abilities to tolerate pain. The low cost of TCM can also help relieve the burden of treatment fees that patients face, Chen said.
However, the advantages of TCM have not been given full play in treating infectious diseases due to weak promotion among the public and a lack of regulations in the legal system, he said.
No TCM clinics have been set up in hospitals across the country, let alone treating infectious diseases, Chen said.
Zhang Jiyu, another deputy, said the government should issue regulations that encourage the training of TCM staff so as to promote the industry's development.
In response to the concerns, Wang Guoqiang, director of the State Administration of TCM, said the government was closely studying how to adopt the TCM approach at the early stages of treating infectious disease emergencies.