Updated on 2 August 2012
The Xinhua News Agency reported that China exported traditional Chinese medicine to 164 countries and regions around the world, with export earnings reaching an all-time high of close to $900 million in 2010. The export earnings represented around 16 percent increase from the previous year.
The government expenditure for TCM has increased significantly over the years, and is presently close to $1.5 billion (RMB 8 billion). The share of TCM within total public health expenditure is 6.71 percent, according to Dr Zhang Qi, coordinator of traditional medicine, department for health system governance and service delivery, China.
As traditional Chinese medicine is based on differentiation of symptoms, not everyone will be treated the same way for the same problems. Thus, each person's treatment is personalized. As opposed to traditional western approaches to diagnosing and treating illness, TCM places more emphasis on the pattern of the symptoms involved. TCM is reputed to have the ability to improve a person's general health, is usually less costly than traditional medicine, and is not dependent on pharmaceutical products that very often cause side effects and sometimes require the use of additional pharmaceuticals simply to combat such side effects. These benefits have fueled the popularity of TCM in Asia and in other parts of the world.
Monitoring the quality of TCM products
On a global basis, there have been concerted efforts to monitor quality and regulate the growing business of herbal drugs and traditional medicine. For example, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has been inaugurated as the US government's lead agency for scientific research in this arena of medicine. Its mission is to explore complementary and alternative healing practices in the context of science and research. The center is committed to explore and fund all such therapies for which there is sufficient preliminary data, compelling public health need and ethical justifications. Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been active in creating strategies, guidelines and standards of botanical medicines.