From acupuncture to herbal tea, Chinese medicine has long been an integral part of Hong Kong society. The city’s background of East meets West gives it a unique edge in raising the discipline to a higher level, as shown in the use of traditional treatment methods for Covid-19 patients.
The industry and the wider community stand to benefit from efforts to further institutionalise the practice.
The government’s launch of the first Chinese medicine hospital project is an important milestone. With a capacity of 400 beds and an annual 310,000 outpatient services, the HK$8.62 billion (US$1.1 billion) facility being built in Tseung Kwan O is set to be ready for use by 2025.
It will diagnose and treat specific diseases through the collaboration of Chinese and Western medicine practitioners, with the former playing a predominant role. A clinical trial and research centre will also be set up to help in the development of new proprietary Chinese medicines and widening of the existing medicines’ clinical applications.
The new facility may account for just a fraction of the millions who attend outpatient services at the city’s public hospitals and clinics, but it will offer another option. Some local people with chronic pain and other health issues will indeed opt for traditional Chinese medicine.
Preparation for regulating Chinese medicine began as early as the 1980s under the British colonial administration. Article 138 of the Basic Law says the government shall formulate policies to develop Western and traditional Chinese medicine and to improve medical and health services.