PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 April, 2003, 12:00am

It is disheartening to see that the death toll for severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) has passed 100.

Among the victims were some in their 30s or 40s who were in good health before contracting the disease.

Although many people have proposed to the Hospital Authority that Chinese medicine, when used properly and in conjunction with the current treatment, will increase Sars patients' chance of survival, they have not been heeded.

Mountains of evidence show that when treatments with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) are used, patients respond better to lower doses of steroids or antiviral drugs. Also they have fewer complications and recover faster.

The WHO experts on their visit to Guangdong Provincial TCM Hospital examined this mode of combination treatment and acclaimed its efficacy. The beauties of TCM treatment for Sars patients are manifold, including:

The herbal medicines used have many fewer side-effects;

The Guangdong experiences showed that herbal medicine did not contraindicate with western drugs used; and

TCM treatments do not target the virus. Rather, their aim is to restore the internal balance and boost the body to kill the virus. Therefore, whether or not the coronavirus has mutated is not an issue as far as the principles of TCM treatment are concerned.

It is high time that medical professionals from these two branches of medicine work together in combating our common enemy and save lives.

Hong Kong has its own TCM schools in universities and it is no excuse that their expertise is not properly channelled to combat Sars.

If a little bit of open-mindedness can change the fate of some dying patients, please give it a go.

ALBERT LEUNG, School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University