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China Daily Global / 2021-04 / 29 / Page014

TCM clinic gives Zimbabweans alternative medical care

China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-04-29 00:00

HARARE-A newly opened traditional Chinese Medicine clinic is offering Zimbabweans an affordable alternative to medical care in a country where access to quality healthcare remains a challenge to many people.

Last year the Zimbabwe-China Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Center opened at the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in the capital Harare. Since its opening, more than 150 people suffering from various ailments, such as high blood pressure, lumbar pain, diabetes and hernias, among other health problems, have received assistance free of charge.

Sun Shuang, a Chinese TCM practitioner at the clinic, says the facility is providing much-needed relief to locals.

"Usually when people come here, they don't come with new problems; usually they come here with old, unsolved or very difficult problems," Sun says.

Sun says while Western conventional medicine and TCM are different, they each have a place in today's healthcare landscape, adding that TCM can play a complementary role to modern treatment methods.

"If painkillers can help you to reduce the pain in five minutes, why you should wait for a decoction in three days to work?" she says. "The painkiller can keep you without pain, maybe, for one day and then, in another 24 hours, you need to take another pill. But with three days of Chinese traditional medicine decoction, you will be free of the pain totally."

Sun says the center aims to train more local medical professionals to administer TCM to Zimbabweans.

John Mbondoza, 59, is one of many in the country who have turned to TCM to address their health challenges.

Mbondoza was struggling with muscle contraction issues in his leg for five years before attempting TCM.

After reading an article in the local press about the opening of the center, he decided to give it a try.

Before coming to the center, he had tried different conventional medical treatments with little success.

"I have been taking medication but there was no result," he says, adding that after his first acupuncture session with Sun, there was a noticeable improvement.

With his second acupuncture session, he felt even better, expressing confidence that, with continued treatment, he will eventually be healed.

Karen Gurure, a China-trained Zimbabwean medical doctor who is interning at the clinic, says the major advantage of TCM is that it has fewer side effects compared to conventional medicine.

Gurure, who studied at the Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, says more benefits can be derived from adopting TCM locally.

While Western medicine tends to focus on diagnosing and treating illness based on a patient's symptoms, TCM uses complex patterns of imbalance within the body to determine a diagnosis.

"TCM focuses on the whole body, while conventional medicine focuses on one certain part of the body. If you have back pain, conventional medicine would treat you for just the back pain, while TCM treats the whole body," she says.

Gurure says there is room to incorporate TCM within Zimbabwe's traditional medicine practices, adding that a collaborative effort between the two will contribute to the transformation of the local medical healthcare system.

Gurure says China offers valuable lessons to Zimbabwe in terms of modernizing and codifying traditional medicine.

Zimbabwe has a long history of traditional plant usage for medicinal purposes, and traditional medicines still play an important role as an affordable and easily accessible source of treatment for many people.

Traditional medicine is recognized as a formal part of the country's healthcare system and is regulated by the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe, the state body responsible for ensuring that medical treatments used by the public are safe.

Zimbabwe and China share a long history of cooperation in the health sector. Since 1985, China has dispatched 18 medical teams to Zimbabwe.

China has also recently stepped up its efforts in helping to increase the capability of Zimbabwe's health delivery system and enhancing its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by providing various donations of medical supplies-most recently with delivery of its COVID-19 vaccines.


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