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On January 18, 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited the World Health Organization (WHO) and met with Director-General Margaret Chan. President Xi brought with him a statue highlighting acupuncture as a gift to the WHO. As one of the most widely used forms of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture is known throughout the world.
The heyday of TCM may just be arriving, as many of its treatment techniques, including acupuncture and massage, are being widely embraced by the world. TCM is finally going global.
Integrating with International Systems
According to the White Paper on Traditional Chinese Medicines released by the Information Office of the State Council of China in December 2016, TCM has spread to 183 countries and regions. Based on WHO statistics, 103 member countries have recognized the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating a variety of ailments. TCM has gradually merged into the international medicine system and is an official treatment in Russia, Cuba, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries.
In China, TCM is more popular in less developed areas, while abroad, it tends to get more exposure in more developed areas, according to Li Zhenji, vice president and co-founder of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies and former deputy director of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SATCM).
“TCM’s development in Europe, the U.S. and Australia has been much stronger than that in South Africa and South American countries,” he explained. TCM clinics in Britain, France and Canada number about 3,000 each, and Australia has about 4,000. Europe is home to 209 TCM educational institutions, accounting for a third of the world’s total.
Among the diverse forms of TCM, acupuncture is the most popular in Europe. According to La Stampa, a daily Italian newspaper, in 1984 many Italian hospitals began adding TCM clinics, and a total of 6 million Italians have received TCM treatment. Acupuncture schools also began opening throughout Italy and developing systematic curriculum standards. It has been reported that in the seven acupuncture schools accredited by the Italian Association of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and TCM (AIAM), students can only receive vocational qualifications by completing 400 hours of theoretical study, 100 hours of interning and 50 hours of clinical practice.