THE only pharmacy degree programme offered by a university in Hong Kong has begun to emphasise herbal medicine to produce professionals who can cope with the locals' peculiar needs. The chairman of the Department of Pharmacy at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Dr L. A. Damani, said students not only received training in conventional pharmaceutical skills during their three-year programme, but were also given an introduction to Chinese herbal medicine. The degree would give students an edge when they went for local jobs as other countries were abandoning teaching herbal medicine. 'A lot of pharmaceutical elements were originally derived from herbs and plants. We have relied too much on synthetic compounds,' said Dr Damani. And Kenneth Lee Kwing-chin, a lecturer in the department, said the majority of local people used herbal medicines and any pharmacist practising in the territory should have a knowledge of the ingredients. Although hospitals generally use conventional medicines, students could still make use of their knowledge of herbal medicine, he said. Clinical pharmacy also accounts for a large part of the degree programme. And the department is planning to introduce a master's degree in Clinical Pharmacy and a research programme, Master of Philosophy in Pharmacy, in 1996.