When the pandemic situation in Wuhan escalated, the Chinese Health authorities decided to employ n an integrated appraoch to deal with Covid-19. With the benefit of their experience fighting SARS in 2003, an integrated appraoch bringing in Traditional Chinese Medicine ( TCM) was adopted with vigour. The argument was in the absence of a known or proven vaccine and instead of shooting in the dark, let’s trust our ancestors’ wisdom; we should go back to solutions handed down to us. TCM clinical appraoch and medicine including herbal decoction, acupuncture and taiji movements; the deployment and mobilizaiton was on an unprecedented large scale, to very encouraging outcome.
** According to Secretary of the TCM Administration of the state, MadamYú Yànhóng (余艳红), “ the state mobilised 4900 TCM professionals nationwide to come to the aid of Wuhan. This is 13% of the medical help from outside Wuhan. This includes 3 fellows of the academy; hundreds of experts; the composition of the team and the sacel of mobilization is unprecedented. TCM has played a major role in the pandemic control in Wuhan.”
** Madam Wu revealed these official figures: Nationwide, 74,187 or 91.5% of the patients used TCM, Hubei alone, 61,449 or 90% of the patients. Clinical observations show that traditional Chinese medicine was effective; success rate was more than 90%. TCM can effectively relieve symptoms, reduce case development from mild to severe, and from severe to critical state; and promote the recovery of the body during the recuperation stage. “The results of the study show that the disappearance of symptoms and the duration of its disappearance compared far better than the control group not using TCM; The improvement of lung imaging was 83.8%, compared to 64.1% in the control group, the clinical cure was 78.9%, compared to 66.2% in the control group. The group under TCM treatment was significantly better than the control group, and the method of reducing mild to severe state was doubled compared with the control group. At the same time, the recently completed in vitro experiments also proved that the traditional Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen ( 连花清瘟) has an inhibitory effect on the new coronavirus.
** In the overral strategy, Wuhan’s Jiangxia Fanchang (temporary shelter) hospital was designated to use TCM treatment only to its patients. The hospital opened its doors on February 14 , and for 26 days brought 542 patients through, all mild cases. When the hospital closed its doors on March10, No case deterioration was reported, all patients recovered, with the remainders of very mild cases transferred to other hospitals to recuperate. The amazing results is the medics manage high recovery rate, stabilising the cases, preventing them to go from mild to severe. Fully following the TCM principle of stabilisation of existing condition; improving and recuperating and not deteriorating, there was lazer sharp focus to reduce death rates, and diligently monitored the patients’ condition.
**Dr Liu Qing Quan, head of Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, who was in charge of Fanchang Hospital in Jiangxia summarised the contribution TCM has made: Application of TCM covered 90.5% of the patients in Hubei Province, and in 91.5% of confirmed cases nationwide, the results are for all to see. Not only recovering from Covid-19, The Chinese recovered their pride and confidence in their heritage, the TCM treatment plan is now included in the national health advisory on treatment for Covit-19.
**The TCM experts observed that compared case deterioration with WHO average: 13% from mild to severe and 7% from severe to critical, in Fanchang these rates dropped dramatically. No patients went from mild to severe. https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=WmkOagUdxYk – Dr Liu disclosed this in a video conference with Italian medics).
** TCM employed 3 established prescription now named as Q-14 ( Cure One Four – meaning Cure One for All, All For One) ; For patients in different conditoins,adjustments are to make to one basic prescription; medics could made 9 adjustments ( + and – the portion of herbs as their specific function and effects) according to the physical condition of the patient and the response of the body to the integrated treatment. Started with a trial prescription, in 26 days, the prescription went to its 7th edition; which is the current edition advised by the Health Ministry at the Central governement; serving as a gudieline for hospitals and doctors nationwide.
**The dispensing of medicine has also been modernised. One does not have to get the different herbs from ancient drawers, brew to get a dark liquid which often times is bitter and not pallatable. TCM now comes in granules stored in organized cabinets managed by AI, a mobile pharmacy, called Mobile Smart Pharmacy for Emergency ( 流动智能应急中药房) is parked right outside the hospital with 300 different herbs in storage, 10 staff manned the pharmacy in shifts; they could fill out the doctors prescription in 3 to 5 minutes. The medicine comes in capsule form and is taken with water.
**Indeed, the philosophy of TCM is different from Western Medicine, so is its appraoch in prescribiing treatment. TCM believes that efforts must be made to strengthen the body; as only the body has the natural ability to heal. In this regard strengthening the immune system so it can fight an externally induced virus. Virus infection according to TCM cannot be prevented, much like a reckless driver knocks on your car! No matter how careful you are, you can’t avoid it. So the morale of the story is, you must have a strong car that can stand knocking! So is the body; if you are fit and your immune system strong, you can stand up better to virus attack.
Given SARS attacked the Chinese population in 2003 and there is still no vaccine in sight, the motivation is to find a way out is strong. Unlike Western medicine which is “cookie cutter,” one for all, TCM is very individual, you need a TCM doctor to diagnose and prescribe. In Wuhan Fanchang there were 209 TCM medics from all over China coming to the aid of Wuhan. China still has the benefit of a large segment of government run hospitals which makes mobilization of personnel quicker and faster for emergency. The TCM teams were managed with meticulous organizatiion and discipline.
In Malaysia only a few hospitals offer TCM treatment, although the practice is very much alive among the Chinese community; it is estimated that there are some 6000 TCM practioners in Malaysia while many young ones pursuing further studies in TCM in leading Chinese Universities. While there are still work to be done to align standards and work on recognition of these degrees, there is one option open to the government; draft in the TCM Medics to a designated hospital, those mild cases can stayed here and guided to follow a detailed TCM treatment routine. This will free up resources and capacity of the existing health system to deal with the more critical cases.
Beijing’s TCM community was quick to come to the world’s assistance. They have just launched a 24/7 bi-lingual website, Beijing Long Distance Health Service Site ( 北京远程健康服务平台)enabling users from all over the world to log on for personal consultation with 1000 TCM experts who have signed up to serve.
A senior TCM doctor said, “ TCM has been around for thousands of years, our clinical trial has been done on hundreds of millions of people over thousands of years, the fact that it is still prevalent and popular is best proof of its relevance.” The senior doctor laments, “ why do we have to go with the western standard of clinical trials, that is for something new and unproven. TCM has been resillient throughout the ages.” Good point to reflect on.
If regulation on standards and rules of ethics can be creatively overcomed, it is worth our effort to give it a try. Moreover, it could be a golden opportunity to keep in steps with the development of TCM in China, and accelerate its adoption in around the world. Public health is a key competitive advantage of any nation; we hope countries and cultures around the world can be open-minded for the well being of their citizens.
Foong Wai Fong
Pahlawan Volunteers Tel/whatsapp 6012 3838229. Foong Wai Fong led this research for Pahlawan Volunteers. Mdm Foong is an author, commentator and has written about TCM in her 2003 book, “Culture is Good Business.” This effort is made to support Pahalwan Volunteers Lobby effort to use TCM to combat the Covit-19 pandemic.