HARARE, April 23 (Xinhua) — A newly opened Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) 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 hypertension, lumbar spine pain, diabetes, hernia, and other health problems have received assistance free of charge.
Sun Shuang, a Chinese TCM doctor at the clinic, said the facility is providing much-needed relief to locals.
“Usually when people come here, they don’t come here with new problems, usually they come here with old problems and unsolved problems, and very difficult problems,” she told Xinhua.
Sun said while western conventional medicine and TCM are different, they each have a place in today’s health care landscape, adding that TCM can play a complementary role to modern treatment methods.
“If painkiller can help you to reduce the pain in 5 minutes, why you should wait for a decoction in three days to work?” she said.
“But the painkiller only can keep you without pain maybe in one day and another 24 hours, you need to take another pill. But with 3 days of Chinese traditional medicine decoction you will get free of the pain totally,” she said.
Sun said the center aims to train more local medical professionals to administer TCM to Zimbabweans.
Fifty-nine-year-old John Mbondoza is one of many Zimbabweans who have turned to TCM to address their health challenges.
Mbondoza has been battling muscle contraction challenges on his leg for 5 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 results.
“I have been taking medication but there was no result,” he said, adding that after his first acupuncture session with Sun there was a notable improvement.
With his second acupuncture session, he felt even better, and he expressed confidence that he will be healed.
Karen Gurure, a China-trained Zimbabwean medical doctor who is interning at the clinic, said the major advantage of TCM is that it has fewer side effects compared to conventional medicine.
Gurure, who studied at Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said 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, with TCM it treats the whole body,” she told Xinhua.
Gurure said there is room to incorporate TCM within Zimbabwe’s traditional medicine practices, adding that collaborative effort between the two will contribute to the transformation of the local medical healthcare system.
“So if we cooperate our work conventional medicine and TCM together, working along together, the prognosis will be so amazing, because we are tackling the western medicine and the traditional medicine,” she said.
Gurure said 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 capacitating Zimbabwe’s health delivery system and enhancing its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic by providing various donations of medical supplies, and most recently with COVID-19 vaccine donations. – Xinhua ■