I refer to Mark Anthony Falzon’s article regarding his personal criticism of the Master’s course of studies in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Culture being launched by the University, (‘Burning mugworth is for worths’, The Sunday Times of Malta, September 6).

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a controversial topic with many proponents and detractors. Falzon is obviously a detractor and he has a right to his views. However, not everyone agrees with him. One such international body that has counter views is none other than the World Health Organisation.

The WHO has taken a very clear stand on this subject and alternative medicine, and has in the past two decades issued a number of documents.

Far from putting traditional Chinese medicine on the rubbish heap, as Falzon would have us do, the WHO has encouraged proper training and research in the field. It has as far back as 1996, identified, on the basis of controlled clinical studies, the areas that acupuncture may actually be of benefit in the clinical management of patients.

An internet search of reputable scientific journals using a standard academic search engine will quickly reveal that traditional Chinese medicine methods of acupuncture and moxibustion have been investigated by clinical controlled trials and found to be useful in clinical practice in certain situations.

The WHO has based its views on proper scientific review and discussion of experts. Its latest publication defines its strategy as having two key goals: “To support member states in harnessing the potential contribution of TCM to health, wellness and people-centred healthcare and to promote the safe and effective use of TCM through the regulation of products, practices and practitioners.

“These goals will be reached by implementing three strategic objectives: building the knowledge base and formulating national policies; strengthening safety, quality and effectiveness through regulation; and promoting universal health coverage by integrating TCM services and self-health care into national health systems.”

The regulation of traditional Chinese medicine practice in Malta was introduced in the relevant health legislation in 1997; the University is now embarking on ensuring that local health professionals are properly trained in the field by collaborating with one of the leading Chinese universities in the field.

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