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Monday June 14, 2010

Malaysia to set up traditional Chinese medicine hub

SHANGHAI: Malaysia plans to set up a centre of excellence for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the country in a joint venture with China.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the cooperation would be between Malaysian and Chinese institutions as part of Malaysia’s bid to raise its standard in TCM.

“That will move us ahead faster as we can provide training, treatment and research and development at the same place,” he said after visiting the Shanghai Shuguang TCM Hospital on Saturday.

He added that both countries planned to allow the resources at the centre to be shared by other Asean, Japanese and South Korean counterparts.

Liow said that during the World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva last month, Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu had preliminarily agreed to pursue the matter and that they would discuss it further when Chen visits Malaysia on July 15.

Currently, Malaysian students pursue TCM at five institutions in Malaysia that are affiliated with their Chinese counterparts.

Many Malaysians also opt to study at eight Malaysian Medical Council-certified Chinese universities for bachelor of medicine and surgery programmes in China.

Liow said there were about 10,000 TCM practitioners in Malaysia but the country needed to train more.

“We have sent full-fledged doctors to China to learn short and long-term TCM courses. We will send more in future. Those who return from the stint will help us set up proper TCM centres,” he added.

When the new Traditional Medi-cine Act is in place later this year, he said it would give the ministry more bite to monitor the quality of TCM practitioners and provide them with grants.

To address the safety issue of drug and health and cosmetic products imported from China, Liow said the ministry was also in talks with both the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration and State Admini­stration of Traditional Chinese Medicine to extend cooperation in regulatory control of the trade of drug products.

“We buy a lot of Chinese medicine from China. We will have a memorandum of understanding to ensure what we certify as safe in Malaysia can be exported to China, and what they certify as safe can be imported to Malaysia,” he said.

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