Daily Archives: May 9th, 2009

Tackling Rising Healthcare Costs…the Chinese Way

The current H1N1Virus epidemic illustrates how expensive healthcare can become. Apart from the increased manpower costs in conducting tamiflusurveillance checks globally, the individual senses some of the impact as well – take the cost of a course of Tamiflu, one of two antiviral drugs that can mitigate influenza in general.  At nearly US$6 a capsule, the complete course of 10 is going to create quite a dent in your pocket if you’re uninsured.

China has now come up with an affirmative program to reduce healthcare costs – the use of traditional medicines, which in general costs much less than Western medicine.

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Chinese Herbs - a popular form of Traditional Medicine

The State Council, the country’s Cabinet, pledged in a circular Thursday to enable every community and village health service center, at the lowest level of the program, to provide traditional medicine service for citizens.It ordered local governments at county level or higher to include traditional medicine hospitals in their health service networks. County hospitals were also encouraged to set up traditional medicine departments.

Traditional Chinese medicine has its unique theories and practices in areas such as herbal medicines, acupuncture, massage and dietary therapy, which is independent from Western medicine.

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Acupuncture - widely accepted in Western medicine nowadays

For some time, traditional Chinese medicine was sidelined as many of its theories could not be explained by modern medicine but it recently became popular among Chinese as an alternative way to keep fit. Indeed, acupuncture has found acceptability in many Western medicine circles nowadays. Costs for acupuncture treatment for chronic back-ache is now reimbursible by most private insurance companies in the US.

One important problem that may create difficulty in promulgating traditional medicine is the fact that a lot of valuable knowledge was not passed from the older generation to the younger due to lack of documentation and some important therapies have been lost.According to the circular, the government plans to register ancient medical books, develop a catalog and set up a digital data base for them. It will also support research and publishing of these books.

Its about time more countries sit up, take notice and develop their own initiatives to develop alternative and complementary medicine strategies – the cost-savings can be tremendous.

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