Regulation good for Chinese medicine

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2001, 12:00am

Thank you for highlighting the Hong Kong University survey on health-care choices in Hong Kong in the report headlined 'West beats East when cure needed' (South China Morning Post, March 2) and your editorial headlined 'Healthy choice', which appeared on the same day.

The main theme was that regulation of Chinese medicine would increase the public's confidence in choosing a herbal remedy and drive out incompetent practitioners.

Regulation is good for all professions and is necessary for Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. Other health-care issues should also be considered. Rather than 'West beats East', how about 'West plus East equals better care'? These different systems should be seen as being complementary to each other, not alternatives.

Whether we like it or not, we are moving into a world where we must treat ourselves with different medicines, both Western and Eastern. An increasing number of doctors trained in Western medicine are reluctant to habitually prescribe antibiotics, because of the spectre of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Chinese herbal remedies could be the first line of defence against colds and flu and many other ailments usually treated with antibiotics.

These medicine systems need not be mutually exclusive. If regulation encouraged greater co-operation between practitioners of Chinese medicine and Western doctors, the public would benefit.