Home > Current Events > Year 2006 November
A review of stories making the headlines
Senior health officials reaffirm importance of close cooperation
Information Services Department, Hong Kong SAR Government, November 6, 2006

Senior health officials from the Mainland, Hong Kong and Macau stressed the importance of cooperation and information exchange at a recent meeting. Speaking in Macau at the opening of the Fifth Joint Meeting of Senior Health Officials of the Mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, the Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food, Dr York Chow, said that since the signing of the Cooperation Agreement on a Response Mechanism for Public Health Emergencies in October last year, cooperation and communication between the three places were much closer. Among topics discussed at the meeting included tobacco control framework, community health issues and traditional Chinese medicine in disease prevention.

Rooted in traditional cultures, dedicated to modern industries
China Daily (Hong Kong Edition), November 8, 2006

Chongwen District in Beijing is gearing up to build itself into a cultural community, featuring a nice blend of traditional culture and modern industry, said Niu Qingshan, head of the district. The cultural community is named after the Temple of Heaven, a well-known historical and cultural heritage situated in the centre of the district. Niu said the Temple of Heaven Cultural Community will focus on seven themes, consisting of city wall culture, residence culture, religious culture, Chinese opera culture, merchant culture, traditional Chinese medicine culture, and art and craft cultures.

Singapore to host TCM meeting
The Straits Times (Singapore), November 13, 2006

Next year, Singapore will host the fourth World TCM Congress for the first time. Around 1,400 TCM physicians from around the world are expected to converge here for the event, which is likely to be held next November. The Singapore Chinese Physicians' Association celebrated its 60th anniversary last night with this news.

On the trail of ancient cures
Wall Street Journal Abstracts (New York), November 15, 2006

Novartis AG, facing huge development costs and a limited pipeline of promising drugs, is looking to TCM as a potential source of future products; the Swiss pharmaceuticals giant has invested several million dollars in a venture with the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, a government-funded lab that looks for rare plants and herbs used in treatments for a wide variety of ailments.

Amendments to Employment Ordinance to recognize registered TCM practitioners
Information Services Department, Hong Kong SAR Government, November 17, 2006

The relevant provisions in the Certification for Employee Benefits (Chinese Medicine) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2006 in relation to the Employment Ordinance will come into effect from December 1 this year. The Permanent Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said "The provisions aim to recognise registered Chinese medicine practitioners (CMPs) for the purpose of employees' entitlement to benefits under the Employment Ordinance." The amendments that will come into operation cover sickness allowance, maternity protection and long service payment. He urged employers to prepare to follow the new provisions so that their employees who sought treatment with registered CMPs and fulfilled the requirements of the Employment Ordinance may enjoy the statutory benefits.

Chinese Moss: The focus of Alzheimer's research
All Headline News (http://www.allheadlinenews.com), October 21, 2006

A plant used in TCM is now part of new U.S. clinical trial to see if it could provide help in treating Alzheimer's patients. The plant called Chinese club moss, which is sold in health food stores in the U.S. as a nutritional supplement, is the focus of a University of North Carolina clinical trial. In China, the plant is used to treat cognitive disorders. The study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging, is federally funded and is part of a wider program of research into natural and alternative medicine. Patients participating in the trial are given a placebo or a dose of Huperzine A, an alkaloid derived from the plant. The dosage is much higher than that provided by supplements in health food stores. The clinical investigators test the cognitive responses of the patients. Final results from the investigation have yet to be announced.

Financial: Merck and Chi-Med ally for east-west attack on cancer
The Guardian (London), November 20, 2006

Chi-Med, a pharmaceutical company which draws on traditional Chinese medicine techniques in developing its products, has signed a collaboration agreement with German drugs giant Merck. Future joint research efforts will concentrate on developing anti-cancer drugs derived from natural products. Chi-Med, part of the Hutchison Whampoa conglomerate already has two products in Phase II clinical trials in the United States in the cancer and auto-immune areas, has a large research facility in Shanghai, which Merck will use. The German firm will also use Chi-Med's library of botanical compounds. The two companies would not disclose the financial details of the contract but it is believed Chi-Med will receive an upfront sum, milestone payments in the coming years depending on performance, and royalties if a product hits the market.

Tradition under microscope
China Daily (Hong Kong Edition), November 22, 2006

While the recent debate to abolish TCM from official medical system has been fading from the media spotlight, it has ignited a wide and continuous discussion on the approaches for the TCM modernization. "The primary reason for the call to abolish TCM from the medicine is it is less scientific. It seems to me that the term °•scientific' has been used in a misleading way," said Zhang Shitian, a former drug evaluator at the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) and now a consultant to Health, Welfare and Food Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The debate on the fate of TCM was aroused by Zhang Gongyao, a professor of philosophy of science at Changsha-based Central South University. In early October, Zhang posted an article in his blog (http://hexun.com/zhgybk), suggesting the government abolish TCM from the official medical system but still retain it as an unfunded, grass-roots service. He said that TCM had too many unscientific components, high toxicity and uncertain therapeutic effects. The blog article quickly triggered widespread public debate. By the end of October, most denounced Zhang as ignorant of TCM.

Chief Executive urges Guizhou to take advantage of Hong Kong
China Daily (Hong Kong Edition), November 23, 2006

Chief Executive Donald Tsang yesterday called upon enterprises of Guizhou Province to take advantage of Hong Kong as a financing platform as he started the second day of his tour in Guiyang. Speaking at the "Hong Kong-Guizhou Business Cooperation Symposium", Tsang said that "development in the province's many different industries, no matter whether it is tourism, infrastructure, traditional Chinese medicine or mining, has entered a capital-driven stage."

Do you wake up gasping for air? Help's on the way
China Daily (Hong Kong Edition), November 25, 2006

An anti-sleep apnea device that combines the wisdom of TCM and acupuncture with a wearable device has been developed by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The "Smart Wristband for Sleep Apnea", made its debut at the International Trade Fair °V Ideas, Inventions, New Products (IENA), on November 2 in Nuremberg, Germany, and won the gold medal. The new device comprises a conductive fabric abdomen belt and a wristband. The belt transmits signal from the conductive fabric in response to the change in the circumference of the user's abdomen. The wristband functions as the second signal-processing unit, with two electrodes adapted to the user's wrist to release electrical pulses to an acupuncture point. Preliminary clinical results showed the device reduced apnea hypopnoea index (AHI) by nearly 30 per cent in three trial groups of 30 users. By triggering the lieque acupuncture point (or lungs Acupoint LU7), sleep apnea sufferers can resume breathing without waking up.

Practitioners of Chinese medicine are seeking official recognition
The Gazette (Canada), Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Association of Quebec is trying to win provincial government recognition of TCM and its practitioners. Association president Irwin Ma said that Quebec needs a professional order of Chinese medicine to set and enforce standards and to weed out charlatans. "Once we became a professional order, if someone called himself a doctor of Chinese medicine, there would be substantial qualifications behind that title," Ma said at a recent news conference. British Columbia is the only province to regulate TCM, although Ontario is close to adopting a similar law. Quebec and Alberta now regulate only acupuncture, a minor element in traditional Chinese health therapies. There are about 500 practitioners of TCM in Quebec. Ma said his group plans to circulate petitions and lobby local members of government to gain professional status. In Ontario, a law to regulate TCM passed its third and final reading last week in the legislature.

Compiled By:
Jennifer Eagleton, BA, MA (Asian Studies), Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.