BANGKOK, Thailand -- Twenty-five years after the establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and the People's Republic of China, the Thai government has officially recognized the legitimacy of traditional Chinese medicine.
The announcement was made at the annual meting of the Thai-Chinese Health Cooperation Committee, which was held in the capital city of Bangkok this July.
"The government has ruled that traditional Chinese medicine is a legal and widely accepted medicine, science and treatment," said Korn Dabbaransi, Thailand's deputy prime minister and minister of public health.
Zheng Wenkang, China's health minister and the leader of a medical delegation at the meeting, concurred with Dabbaransi, calling the move a "wise decision" and pledging his country's full support to the development of TCM in Thailand.
"The preservation and promotion of traditional medicine now is a common opinion of most countries in the world," Wenkang stated, "and Thailand showed its respect to the science and the will of its people by making this decision."
New Licensing Regulations Passed
With the legalization of traditional Chinese medicine, the Thai government has also approved regulations for the licensing of TCM practitioners. Applicants for the two-year license will be required to pass professional and ethical training and will also be evaluated by a traditional medicine committee.
The evaluation will be strict, Dabbaransi added, to prevent unqualified practitioners from performing Chinese medicine. It is also thought that imposing more regulations may help educate the people of Thailand as to what TCM can (and cannot) do.
"Until now, many Thai people think that a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine can treat any disease," said Dr. Xie Qiangming, one of the first doctors to receive the new license, "and this needed to be changed."
TCM Center Will Be Built in Nation's Capital
In accordance with the legal recognition of TCM, the Thai and Chinese governments have also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) calling for the construction of a traditional Chinese medicine center in Bangkok. The center will include educational, research and service facilities, with China providing technology and management assistance to Thailand.
Dabbaransi noted that building such a center would bring more choices for the people of Thailand to take care of their health. "Now, Thai people can choose among Western, Thai and Chinese medicine," he said.
Wenkang, meanwhile, noted the growth of other traditional Chinese medicine centers throughout southeast Asia and opined that, in time, the Thai center could eventually become the best of its kind in the region.
"By setting up such a center, China and Thailand will revive traditional medicine with modern technology, which will eventually benefit not only the people of the two countries, but also the whole world," said Wenkang.