Discourse of Xile, Deputy Director of the Tibet Bureau of Health


Tibet medicine is a brilliant pearl in the treasury of traditional medicine of China, and has a history more than 2,300 years long. In the old Tibet before 1959, a variety of diseases and infections spread wantonly, but medical and healthcare conditions fell by far behind. At that time, there were only three official Tibetan medicine institutions and a few private clinics, all of which were poorly equipped and in very small size; there was no single hospital bed, and medical personnel numbered less than one hundred. Working people in large numbers received no timely treatment when they got ill, struggling on the verge of death both in poverty and illness.

After the democratic reform in Tibet, the Central Government and the Tibetan autonomous government have laid much emphasis on the development of Tibetan medicine and drugs, regarding the development of such kind as a strategic key point for their medical and healthcare work. They have formulated and promulgated a series of important documents to strengthen and improve the development of Tibetan medicine and drugs, including the Decision on the Strengthening of Work on Tibetan Medicine and Drugs. Meanwhile, they have constantly increased their investment, laying a focus on the strengthened construction of Tibetan medicine institutions, talent training, scientific research and industrial development. In this way, traditional Tibetan medicine has received complete protection, inheritance and development, and the comprehensive management, technical levels and service abilities in Tibetan medicine hospitals at levels have been obviously improved.

1. A Tibetan Medicine Service Network Has Covered the Whole Region

At present, there are 18 independent Tibetan medical institutions in Tibet, with Tibetan hospital beds numbering 650; and Tibetan medical personnel amount up to 2,139. In addition, there are 297 folk Tibetan medicine doctors. Tibetan medicine hospitals or Tibetan medical departments are available in most counties throughout Tibet Region, 40% rural doctors can make use of the diagnosing and curing methods of Tibetan medicine to prevent and cure diseases, and a Tibetan medicine service network has covered the whole region. By learning from the model of modern hospital management, Tibetan medicine hospitals at levels are emphatically committed to the internal construction within hospitals, giving a full play to their unique features and advantages to conduct the construction of special Tibetan medical departments for specific diseases. In doing so, they have set up featuring therapeutic departments engaged in Tibetan medicine, such as the department of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, the department of digestive diseases, the department of orthopedics and traumatology and the department of physical therapy. In all these departments, suitable featuring therapies in Tibetan medicine, including moxibustion, cupping, medicinal bathing, blood-leading therapy and Yak's horn hematophagia therapy, can be used in diagnosing and curing common diseases, frequently occurring diseases, chronic diseases and difficult diseases. In 2008, the clinics in Tibetan medicine hospitals at and above county level reached 600,000 person-times. To really speed up the development of Tibetan medicine and drugs and improve Tibetan medicine service networks, merely from 2006 on, the central government and the regional authorities have invested nearly 300 million RMB in enlarging the Tibet Autonomous Region Tibetan Medicine Hospital, 6 prefectural Tibetan medicine hospitals and 20 county level Tibetan medicine hospitals, and developing the service abilities of Tibetan medicine institutions in farming and pasturing areas.

2. The Construction of Tibetan Medicine Personnel Has Been Strengthened

The Central Government and the Regional Government have paid much attention to the development and training of Tibetan medicine personnel. They have worked hard to promote the training and education of Tibetan medicine personnel by holding special Tibetan medicine courses in the inland and Tibet Autonomous Region, establish higher and middle level Tibetan medicine teaching institutions such as the Department of Medicine in Tibet University, the Tibet Autonomous Region Tibetan Medicine College, and run non-governmental Tibetan medicine schools. At the same time, other manners have also been used in training professional Tibet medicine talents, including personal teaching between a teacher and apprentices and Tibetan medicine technical training. Take only the Tibetan Medicine College as an example. Up to 2008, it has trained 1,311 graduates in Tibetan medicine respectively with bachelors or vocational college certificates, 64 postgraduates and two doctorial students. At present, students at school in this college total 1,194.

3. The Scientific Research of Tibetan Medicine Has Gained Rem

A variety of Tibetan medical institutions at levels have extensively conducted the scientific research of Tibetan medicine, with an emphasis on inheriting traditional Tibetan medicine, searching and collating Tibetan medicine classics, combining traditional medicine with modern one. In 2006, the Tibet Academy of Tibetan Medicine was established, which is mainly engaged in basic Tibetan medicines research, application research, theoretical and clinic research and the astronomic and calendric research concerning Tibetan medicine. In 2008, the Tibetan Medicine Hospital was included into the list of Construction Projects of National Chinese Medicine (National Medicine) Clinic Research Bases. The Tibetan Medicine Hospital after the construction will become a national base for clinic Tibetan medicine research, which will greatly improve the disease-preventing and curing abilities and research level of Tibetan medicine. At the same time, efforts have been actively made in the work on saving, search and collation. As a result, treatises and monographs with much scientific value and more than 300 copies of ancient Tibetan medicine literature have been compiled, written and published, including the Detailed Expatiations on Four Medical Classics, the Colorful Thang-ga Serial Wall Maps for Four Medical Classics, the Encyclopedic Book of Astronomy and Calendric Calculations, the Brilliant Mirrors of Ganlu Herbs, the Chinese Herbs—Volume of Tibetan Medicines; in addition, 10 kinds of Tibetan medicine textbooks and monographs have also been compiled and published, among which are the Physiology, the Pathology, the Pharmacology, the Dietetics and the New Compilation of Tibetan Medicine. Meanwhile, advanced modern techniques have been used in developing and researching classical Tibetan medicine prescriptions and effective ones of such kind, and altering the types of recipes. Theoretical and clinic researches have been done and satisfactory effects have been achieved in the experimental treatment combining Tibetan medicine and western one for some chronic diseases and difficult ones such as chronic atrophic gastritis and hepatitis. In addition, the survey and protection of wild Tibetan medicine resources have been gradually made, and so it is with the recipe development and preventing-and-controlling research of hand-foot-mouth disease, human cases of avian influenza and Influenza A (H1N1).

4. Tibetan Medicine Pharmaceutical Industry Has Been Steadily Developed

In old Tibet, the pharmaceutical work was mainly done by doctors, who “picked up herbs and processed them for themselves.” In August 1964, a pharmaceutical group was set up inside the Lhasa City Tibetan Medicine Hospital, and three technicians were selected and dispatched to the Tong Ren Tang Pharmaceutical Factory in Beijing to learn pharmaceutical techniques. That thus ended the situation that there were no Tibetan medicine pharmaceutical bases or professional pharmaceutical personnel in Tibet. At present, the production of Tibetan medicines has changed from traditional handwork with small-sized poor facilities to a large-scaled industrialized and standardized pharmaceutical industry, and it has become one of the featuring mainstay industries in Tibet. Now, a preliminary marketing network in the Tibetan medicine industry has been formed, with its annual turnover reaching more than 600 million RMB. In Tibet, 18 Tibetan medicine pharmaceutical enterprises have received state GMP authentication, 360 types of Tibetan medicines can be produced, and the registered batch numbers for preparations in Tibetan medicine hospitals at levels amount to 546 (191 types of single varieties). The Tibetan medicine products have guaranteed the clinic use of drugs in more than 600 domestic hospitals while they meet the demands in Tibet; selling spots have been set up in each province (municipality directly under the leadership of the Central Government or autonomous region), and some medicines have even been sold as far as to overseas.

5. The Foreign Exchanges and Co-operation of Tibetan Medicine Are Increasingly Extensive

Since the 1980s, the foreign exchanges and co-operation of Tibetan medicine have been increasingly strengthened, foreign and domestic experts and scholars coming to Tibet to research and learn about Tibetan medicine have been increasing every year, and Tibetan medicine experts in Tibet have been abroad to lecture on invitations, holding scientific lectures and exchanges in a dozen of countries and regions such as the USA, Britain and Japan. The Tibetan Medicine Hospital has co-operated with international organizations in the fields of ophthalmology and gynecology, and achieved satisfactory effects. In 2000, the International Academic Conference on Tibetan Medicine was successfully held in Lhasa, which has further multiplied the influence of Tibetan medicine both at home and abroad, and greatly boosted its foreign exchanges and co-operation.

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