Geneva/Beijing: The World Health Organization (WHO) in its report on the WHO Expert Meeting on Evaluation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the Treatment of COVID-19, has recognized the safety and efficacy of China’s herbal COVID medicine in treating patients with COVID-19.
The 21 international experts from the six WHO regions included members of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel, representatives of WHO collaborating centres, members of the WHO International Regulatory Cooperation for Herbal Medicines (IRCH), and members of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. Technical staff from WHO headquarters, and regional and country offices also attended the meeting that was held virtually from February 28 to March 2, 2022.
The report apparently encourages others to consider the integration of TCM in planning for the clinical management of COVID-19 in the context of their healthcare systems and regulatory frameworks.
The meeting considered three reports on traditional Chinese medicine and COVID–19 –including clinical service, research and evidence–based evaluation provided by national expert groups in China. The evidence–based evaluation report focused on outcomes from the reports as well from 12 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) which had been registered and published. The objectives of the meeting were:
- to understand the methodology applied in producing the reports;
- to review and analyse the reports and randomized controlled trials of TCM in various phases of the progression of COVID–19 disease;
- to evaluate the contribution of a TCM integrated approach in the treatment of COVID– 19; and
- to discuss how effectively to enhance the contribution of traditional medicine in global pandemics.
The experts agreed that the studies presented had applied appropriate and rigorous methodology given the context in which they were being conducted. Although the trials involved different settings, the data suggested that TCM was both safe and beneficial when combined with conventional antiviral medicine.
Zhao Lijian from the Chinese foreign ministry said today he had noted the WHO report and claimed that since the outbreak of COVID-19, TCM has been deeply and comprehensively involved in the pandemic prevention and control in China.
“Applying TCM and integrating TCM and Western medicine has delivered notable effects,” he said.
As the WTO report pointed out, TCM was seen to reduce the risk of the mild or moderate disease progressing to severe disease. For mild-to-moderate cases, the studied TCMs, when administered as add-on interventions to conventional treatment, may shorten the time for viral clearance, resolution of clinical symptoms and length of hospital stay when compared to conventional treatment alone. “And the early application of TCM may result in better clinical outcomes for patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19,” he said.
Since COVID-19 broke out, China has been making contributions to the fight against the pandemic with TCM. According to incomplete statistics, China has so far shared TCM diagnosis and treatment guidelines with over 150 countries and regions, provided TCM products to more than 10 countries and regions in need, and sent TCM experts to guide epidemic control in 29 countries and regions.
In March last year, the Chinese side held the “Forum on Traditional Chinese Medicine and International Cooperation to Fight Against COVID-19 Pandemic”, during which political leaders, government officials, WHO representatives and experts from 28 countries and regions had in-depth exchanges via video link. The forum adopted the Initiative on Supporting the Application of Traditional Chinese Medicine in the Global Fight Against COVID-19.
Not long ago, the Chinese side released a development plan to enhance the integration of TCM into high-quality Belt and Road cooperation for the period from 2021 to 2025. It proposes that during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, China will cooperate with countries along the Belt and Road to build 30 high-quality TCM centres overseas to provide quality TCM services to people of these countries.
“We are glad to see that more and more countries have come to appreciate the value of TCM,” Lijian said. According to him, the WHO Expert Meeting’s explicit acknowledgement of TCM’s role in combating COVID-19 “is an epitome of this increasing international recognition”.
He said that China stands ready to work with other countries as well as the WHO to give full play to the unique advantages and role of traditional medicine including TCM, deepen exchange and cooperation in traditional medicine, continue to advance international cooperation in epidemic prevention and control, and contribute to protecting the life and health of people in all countries.
– global bihari bureau