A Russian child with cerebral palsy gets treatment in Sanya Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital last summer. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Nina Kudryavceva of St. Petersburg, Russia, has stayed in Sanya for one or two months every year for the past decade, traveling around as well as having a routine medical checkup and treatment at a local hospital.
"Traditional Chinese medicine works wonders, and we feel much better after each treatment. We also enjoy the local life and culture very much," said Kudryavceva, now on vacation with her husband, Alexey Kudryavcev, in the tropical Hainan province.
Kudryavceva, 68, and Kudryavcev, 72, look energetic and much younger than their ages, for which they attribute partly to the TCM healthcare functions.
Saren, director of the acupuncture department at the Sanya TCM Hospital, is known as "China Mom" to about 20 Russian children who were victims of the Russia Beslan School hostage crisis in 2004 and recovered after TCM treatments in Sanya in 2006 and 2008.
"Many of the kids, so impressed by their experience in Sanya, said they would like to learn TCM skills and culture when they grow up," said Saren, a doctor from the Mongolian ethnic group and a graduate of Beijing TCM University.
With more than 30 years of experience, she is one of the few Chinese doctors in Sanya who have impressed top leaders of other countries with their effective TCM treatments.
While indulging in the sunshine, golden beaches and the tropical features of Sanya, on the southern tip of Hainan island, more overseas tourists are visiting with a special purpose-the benefits of TCM.
Medical tourism, which according to one US research report is expected to bring in $678 billion this year worldwide, is gaining new momentum in Hainan, once a key stop on the ancient Maritime Silk Road and now a burgeoning international tourism destination thanks to policy support from the central government, according to Wu Ming, deputy director of the Hainan Health and Family Planning Commission and head of the provincial TCM administration.
He said the State designated Hainan as a pioneering region for TCM service trade innovation in 2014 and projected this year to turn the island into a national TCM service trade and healthcare tourism demonstration zone.
"Leading medical bodies such as Sanya TCM Hospital have actually pioneered the development of TCM healthcare tourism by taking advantage of the local natural environment and tourist resources, starting in 2002," Wu said.
He said the hospital provided tailor-made TCM services to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Kyrgyz Prime Minister Zhantoro Satybaldiyev and dignitaries and ambassadors from 18 countries.
The hospital has been awarded an umber of diplomatic honors, such as from the Russian government for its contribution to China-Russia friendship through its treatment of the hostage crisis victims.
Around 50,000 foreigners mostly from Russian-speaking countries and northern Europe and some from Canada, the United States, Turkey and Iran－have received high-end tailored TCM therapies that eased or cured their illnesses, while traveling in Sanya since the healthcare tourism effort began in 2002, according to statistics from the hospital.
"Among people living in a frigid climate, there is a high incidence of nerve diseases such as cerebral palsy, respiratory system problems like asthma, motion system problems such as hip-joint and knee-joint problems, for which TCM therapies have good curative effects," said Wang Tiansong, president of the hospital, which cooperates with five Russian medical institutions and companies in addition to a number upcoming ties with medical centers in Russia, Sweden and Malaysia.