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Chinese medicine in the world. Three | Is it also hot in Africa? From the "first person" of black Chinese medicine

2022-09-30T00:42:11.387Z

Traditional Chinese medicine has become more and more common all over the world in recent years, especially in the African continent. In addition to the fact that there is a similar history and culture of traditional herbal medicine there, with the promotion of China's Belt and Road Initiative in the local area in recent years



Traditional Chinese medicine has become more and more common all over the world in recent years, especially in the African continent. In addition to the similar history and culture of traditional herbal medicine in the local area, with the promotion of China's Belt and Road Initiative in recent years, related industries have also been exported. The trade of traditional Chinese medicines between China and Africa has become increasingly frequent.


However, in a favorable environment for the development of traditional Chinese medicine, various inherent chaos and malpractices in the industry, such as selling counterfeit medicines, practicing medicine without a license, and poaching wild animals, have emerged one after another, becoming an unavoidable practical problem for future development...


This is " "Chinese Medicine in the World" Thematic Series No. 3


Diarra Boubacar, 58, was born in 1964 in a family of doctors in Mali, Africa. His grandfather was a herbalist and his father was the director of a local hospital.

In the 1960s, the Chinese medical aid team to Africa brought Chinese medicine to his hometown. The acupuncture, cupping and other items used by Chinese medicine practitioners were very interesting to him at a young age.

He recalled:

When I was a child, I saw that a Chinese medicine doctor could cure a disease with a silver needle, and it was amazing.

At that time, the seeds of Chinese medicine may have been planted in my heart.

In 1984, Diarra graduated from the Malian Medical College majoring in general medicine. In the same year, he came to China for the first time and participated in the student exchange program of Chinese language and culture at Beijing Language and Culture University.

After the two-year course, he originally planned to be admitted to Beijing Medical University, but later changed to Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine to study Chinese medicine.

The road to learning TCM was very difficult at first, but

what inspired him to keep going was the similarities between TCM and traditional African medicine, such as the use of certain herbs to treat the same ailments and bloodletting.

Diarra is the first foreigner in the mainland to obtain a doctorate in Chinese medicine.

(Online picture)

The first foreigner to obtain a doctor of Chinese medicine in the Mainland

After 11 years of hard study, Diarra finally obtained a doctorate in acupuncture and moxibustion from Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in 1997, becoming the first foreigner in mainland China to obtain a doctorate in traditional Chinese medicine.

After graduation, in addition to working in the private sector, he has cooperated with MSF for many years to treat impoverished patients in backward inland villages and treat incurable diseases such as leprosy for the villagers.

Since the late 1990s, Diarra has traveled to remote mountainous areas such as Honghe and Nujiang in Yunnan, and has trained more than 3,000 village doctors so far.

In 2001, he was invited by the local government to start voluntary medical treatment for the villagers of Yizu Village in Sancun Township, Honghe County, Yunnan Province. Sancun Township is one of the poorest villages in Yunnan Province and a national poverty-stricken township.

“Since childhood, when my father was at home to see patients, he never charged them. He always told me that a doctor’s job is to love patients and serve their communities,” Diarra said.

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Diarra's footprints have spread all over the remote mountainous areas of Yunnan Honghe, Nujiang and other places.

(Online picture)

Diarra has witnessed the rise of traditional Chinese medicine on the international stage in recent years, and Chinese pharmacologist Tu Youyou won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for proposing methods for treating malaria from ancient Chinese medicine books.

These developments have inspired him, "Chinese medicine is becoming more and more famous in the world."

Diarra's dream now is to bring her expertise back to her hometown, and she plans to start small, hoping to train African physicians to treat African people in a very cheap and effective way, in the same way that they do in rural China.

Currently, he is in contact with 15 African physicians who are also studying in China, hoping they can participate in his project, and is looking for investors in China and elsewhere.

My wish is to set up a Chinese medicine center, which is not only a hospital, but also an educational center where people can learn Chinese medicine, as well as advanced research facilities on Chinese medicine and African herbal medicine.

Malian TCM physician Diarra

My wish is to set up a Chinese medicine center, which is not only a hospital, but also an educational center where people can learn Chinese medicine, as well as advanced research facilities on Chinese medicine and African herbal medicine.

Malian TCM physician Diarra

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The Chinese medicine industry is rapidly expanding in Africa, and there are currently about 2,000 Chinese medicine practitioners practicing in 45 African countries.

(Getty)

China-Africa pharmaceutical trade continues unabated under the epidemic

There are not many examples of Africans like Diarra going to China to study Chinese medicine, but the development of Chinese medicine in Africa is another story.

In fact, although Chinese investment in Africa has plummeted under the new crown epidemic, construction has been suspended one after another.

However, according to the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products

, in the first half of 2020, despite the overall decline in China-Africa trade, the bilateral pharmaceutical trade volume bucked the trend and increased to US$1.602 billion (approximately HK$12.575 billion), a year-on-year increase of nearly 14%.

Since 2013, under the leadership of the development strategy of the Belt and Road Initiative, the total import and export of traditional Chinese medicines between China and Africa in 2017 reached approximately US$80 million (approximately HK$628 million), doubling from five years ago.

A study last year also pointed out that the TCM industry is rapidly expanding its territory in Africa. At present, there are about 2,000 TCM practitioners practicing in 45 African countries, and TCM companies and TCM clinics are actively being established all over Africa

. The China-Africa Forum strongly supports TCM and Africa. The cooperation and exchange of traditional medicine and the current epidemic have also led the Chinese government to strengthen the promotion of traditional Chinese medicine in Africa.

With the development of the "Belt and Road", Chinese medicine has been promoted to African countries.

(Getty)

Enter Africa with the Belt and Road

On the other hand, the "One Belt, One Road" plan has also attracted many Chinese people to develop local factories, or participate in the construction and resource development of African countries.

A large number of Chinese people come to Africa, which naturally increases the demand for traditional Chinese medicine.

The Chinese government has not only signed formal agreements with many African countries to support the development of TCM, but also sought to legally recognize TCM in certain countries, such as Namibia and South Africa

.

Taking South Africa as an example, the country passed the United Health Law in 2001, and the authorities implemented the registration management of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists and issued practicing licenses.

Today, many African countries welcome traditional Chinese medicine, and many people especially like acupuncture.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) analysis, the reason why Chinese medicine is popular in Africa is that 80% of Africans rely on local traditional medicine. Local people generally believe in traditional doctors and regard them as alternative medicine, so they tend not to reject them. Chinese medicine

.

However, the laws of most African countries do not recognize traditional Chinese medicine, and there is a lack of relevant certification regulations.

Diarra once told mainland media: "As China's influence in Africa continues to increase, so does traditional Chinese medicine. Many unlicensed traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, unqualified health experts and their counterfeit medicines also follow. It's everywhere."

Africa has a culture of traditional medicine and is more receptive to traditional Chinese medicine.

(Getty)

In addition to selling fake medicines and practicing medicine without a license, the issue of poaching wild animals has caused more controversy in Africa, and has attracted great attention from global animal concern groups.

In major African cities such as Johannesburg, South Africa, shops sell Chinese medicinal products or medicinal materials containing animal ingredients, including tiger bones, tortoise shells, and rhino skin. Local markets also sell elephant skins and pangolin scales.

Since many of these animal medicinal materials mainly come from Africa, the outside world has paid attention to the plans of traditional Chinese medicine companies in the region to build a complete supply chain from procurement to sales, which may further affect local endangered wild animals, such as the rhinoceros in South Africa.

Reiki Ueda, a travel writer who focuses on animal rights, said that with the increased demand for Chinese medicine, the pressure on these animals to survive will definitely increase.

Looking back at the history of the ivory trade, she pointed out that the ivory trade was banned for a long time, and then the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) once made the ivory trade legal. Elephant poaching figures have skyrocketed.

The problem of poaching wild animals is attracting attention in Africa, and Chinese medicinal ingredients such as rhino skin are the reason for the hunting.

(Getty)

Scientific research "without shadow" hinders the development of Hong Kong, can it help turn things around?

From the examples in Africa, it can be seen that Chinese medicine has many problems to be solved in terms of medical practice regulation, raw materials of medicinal materials, and legality of medicinal materials sources before it can be promoted to "popularity".

In recent years, the World Health Organization hopes to include traditional medicine in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) on the grounds that "traditional medicine affects tens of thousands of people and spreads all over the world".

It took the organization more than a decade to get representatives from Asian countries to condense traditional medical knowledge developed over thousands of years into a classification system.

ICD records thousands of diseases and diagnoses, and has a significant impact on medical research methods and medical insurance coverage.

However, since the diagnostic records of traditional medicine such as traditional Chinese medicine are quite small, the WHO and even the scientific community still cannot fully recognize the scientificity or efficacy of its treatment.

Arthur Grollman, a professor of pharmacology and medicine at Stony Brook University, said the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicines is mostly unproven, and only a few herbs have been tested for toxicity or carcinogenicity.

David Colquhoun, a professor of pharmacology at the University of London, believes that many studies have found that acupuncture has only a small effect, but "no clinical significance", and many evidences point out that "the needle is stuck in a different place, and the result is still the same."

These criticisms somewhat reflect that the lack of scientific verification seems to be a hurdle that TCM has to overcome in the long-term development in the future.

According to the reporter, many people in the Chinese medicine industry, experts and scholars, the Chinese medicine industry also needs long-term supervision in the face of unlicensed practice of medicine, the sale of counterfeit medicines, and the poaching of wild animals, which depends on the development of each country and the consideration of the government.

What is even more concerning is that the development of traditional Chinese medicine still seldom involves clinical research. In the absence of sufficient scientific evidence, it will inevitably be difficult to promote the industry to the world. However, this aspect is very promising in Hong Kong and is expected to play a role in it. important role, which will be explored in subsequent articles.

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Source: hk1

All news articles on 2022-09-30

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