China is set to promote traditional Chinese medicine's culture and skills in primary and middle schools to help boost and preserve the ancient medical science, the country's top TCM chief said. [Special coverage]
Wang Guoqiang, head of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and also a member of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress, spoke to China Daily on Friday on the sidelines of the political advisory body's meeting.
"It should be a bottoms-up approach, like we've already seen with schools adding TCM courses for students. We are working closely with the education authorities for preparatory work like course design, setting training targets and teaching methods," said Wang, whose responsibilities also include being deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
The initiative would help enhance their health awareness and ability to lead a healthy lifestyle, he said.
It also would "help with the nation's long-term strategy to train more quality TCM talent", he said, adding that the supply of TCM practitioners is falling short of the demand.
Wang Jie, president of Guang'anmen Hospital, which specializes in TCM, said that while they have millions of patient visits a year, "we only have several hundred doctors, and they are very overworked".
Wang Jie, whose hospital is one of the top TCM institutions in Beijing, said he would be happy to see more young people interested in TCM studies and medical careers.
Wang Guoqiang urged TCM and education experts to work together to come up with an approach that is appealing to students.
He suggested activities like lectures and a chance to experience TCM techniques such as massage and acupuncture. "Young students are the future of TCM," he said.
While he didn't set a timetable for the initiative, some campuses already are doing pioneering work in the field.
At Dafangjia Kindergarten in Beijing's Dongcheng district, TCM-related exercises have been provided for over a month, according to Wang Guoqiang.
The effort is paying off: The student attendance rate has increased by 10 percent, he said. It will have long-range benefits in terms of disease prevention and health preservation, he added.
Wang Guoqiang added that China would open more TCM-themed Confucius institutes or classes overseas to better promote TCM abroad. There are now four such institutes and they are well received by the locals, he said.