This is the final part of the three-part investigative report on Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM). In the first part, we saw that TCM is not as effective as it is advertised to be (Link). We discussed how TCM is destroying biodiversity and killing animals all over the world, especially in Africa, in the most gruesome manner, in the second part (Link). In this conclusive part, we will discuss how China controls the multilateral bodies and academia to expand TCM.
China has a massive influence on the World Health Organization (WHO). People close to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) occupy prominent positions in this global health regulatory body. The non-existent relationship between Taiwan with the WHO and WHO’s support to China for the Coronavirus origin cover-up are glaring examples of the association between WHO and China.
Taiwan was barred from membership in the WHO due to political pressure from China. From 2017 to 2020, the WHO refused to allow Taiwanese delegates to attend the WHO annual assembly. Furthermore, on multiple occasions, Taiwanese journalists have been denied access to report on the assembly.
In a 2020 interview, Assistant Director-General Bruce Aylward appeared to evade a question from RTHK journalist Yvonne Tong about Taiwan’s response to the pandemic and inclusion in the WHO, blaming internet connection issues. When the video call was resumed, he was asked another question about Taiwan. He reacted by suggesting that they had already discussed China and concluded the interview.
WHO declared First lady of China as the WHO Goodwill Ambassador in 2011.
Now let us see how China has influenced the WHO for expanding the TCM. The WHO’s relationship with China has matured extremely close, in particular during the tenure of Margaret Chan, a Chinese physician, who ran the organization from 2006 to 2017 as the Director-General of the WHO.
In Beijing in November 2016, Chan gave a speech with the highest praises for China’s advancements in public health and its plans to spread traditional medicine.
Chan documented a foreword to a supplement that ran in Science and was sponsored by the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and Hong Kong Baptist University (Nature ran a similar paid-for supplement in 2011). Chan wrote that traditional medicines are “often seen as more accessible, more affordable, and more acceptable to people and can therefore also represent a tool to help achieve universal health coverage”.
Due to the efforts of Chan, China was able to include TCM in the crucial International Classification of Diseases, ICD-11, for the first time. ICD is a highly influential document that categories and assigns codes to medical conditions. The inclusion of TCM in the ICD11 has been criticized by the scientific community around the world.
The current WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also supports the TCM under the influence of China. On 18th January 2022, he tweeted that he met Huang Luqi, vice-commissioner of the Chinese National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), to “discuss the role of traditional Chinese medicine in improving people’s health”.
An excerpt from the acknowledgment of “WHO traditional medicine strategy: 2014-2023” which talks highly of promoting the TCM reads: “The government of the People’s Republic of China kindly provided financial support for the development of the document.” On top of it, most of the members of the drafting committee of the WHO strategy were Chinese.
The promotion of Traditional Medicines by WHO is appreciable and can be seen as a progressive step to integrate health systems around the globe. However, such a promotion with inaccurate research and without unbiased participants is doing damage.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an international standard development organization comprised of representatives from the national standards organizations of associate countries. Multifarious technical committees (TC) handle the ISO standards-making process. They are the key bodies that drive the standardization and comprise experts from the national committees.
Of the 26 Technical Committees of the HEALTH, MEDICINE, AND LABORATORY EQUIPMENT sector, one is a TC for Traditional Chinese Medicine. (ISO/TC 249).
China has started various Diploma, Bachelor, and Post Graduate courses of TCM in many world-renowned universities. The global universities which offer courses on TCM are as follows:
The examples of the courses offered by these universities are as follows:
The courses are not only offered in the universities but are now dominating the online space.
Popular e-learning portals like Udemy and Coursera offer abundant courses on TCM.
China’s authority over multilateral bodies and academia is the prominent reason for the expansion and growing acceptance of TCM in the world despite fatal to injurious side effects and damage to the biodiversity it incurs.
Adam Dlamini compiled this report from various credible sources and original report
Adam Dlamini (Africa Analyst of Ij-reportika)