HARARE: The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture Center at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, has started training in TCM and acupuncture for the first batch of local health workers to to meet the growing demand for Chinese medicine in the country.
Zhu Wei, a traditional Chinese medicine physician and head of the centre, said the three-month program aims to train a group of local medical professionals who can provide an alternative medical option for Zimbabweans.
“We hope to train a team of personnel who specialize in TCM and acupuncture, and we hope that after the training, they can master the basic techniques of acupuncture and the basic knowledge of TCM,” he said. he told Xinhua in an interview.
Zhu, who also heads the 18th Chinese medical team in Zimbabwe, said TCM offers substantial benefits to patients, hence the need to train local health workers.
“In Chinese medicine, we can diagnose a disease by inspection, investigation, palpation and auscultation. So, for people who cannot afford the CT scan, they can benefit from TCM and acupuncture. After having diagnosed the patient, we can use acupuncture and Chinese cups (cupping therapy) to cure him,” Zhu said.
“TCM and acupuncture are general medicine. It can be used in different fields and different specialties like in the bone system. We can treat different pain like neck pain, back pain and arthritis, headache etc. It can also be applied in digestive system, neurological system and vascular system.
The centre, established in 2020 as part of efforts to provide Zimbabweans with affordable medical treatment, has seen a slew of patients seeking free medical treatment in recent months.
Before the program was introduced, Adam Muchenje, a nursing tutor, had attended TCM training and workshops in China.
“The opening of this clinic is a blessing for me and the patients because now I will have a chance to practice at the same time to help people,” he said.
“The knowledge that I learned in China and that I’m learning now is going to help treat patients, educate people on how they can get treatment, combine it with the type of western medicine so that we do bring out the best for our people.”
Tatenda Chimbunde, an intern at the center and a recent graduate of China Pharmaceutical University, said it was her duty to share what she learned in China for the benefit of locals.
“When I was a student in China, in addition to learning more about Western pharmacy, I learned more about identifying traditional Chinese herbs, and the teachers were talking about the benefits of these natural herbs. We will also use some of them in our daily lives,” Chimbunde said.
“So coming back to Zimbabwe, when I heard they were introducing TCM and acupuncture, I saw it as an opportunity to learn how to combine their own natural way of treating people with what I have. learned as a pharmacy student.”
Another intern, Richard Mutingwende, who is a natural therapist specializing in homeopathy, said incorporating TCM into his practice would greatly improve his work.
“I have referred so many patients here to this center for treatment. Within a few weeks, or a few sessions, they will recover quickly even after a very long time of suffering with chronic disease such as spinal injuries, problems such as a stroke,” Mutingwende said.
“We’re talking about a system that takes what we call a holistic approach. The system is non-invasive. This means it is safe, has no side effects and is affordable, so I decided to take up acupuncture in order to add it to my practice as a homeopathic practitioner.
Melba Mafika, who was involved in a car accident, is suffering from side effects from medication.
“The reason I decided to come here was that I had bad side effects with the drugs. If I take my painkillers, I feel sleepy. Sometimes I can’t work properly so I needed something that could ease my pain while I can still do my daily tasks,” she said.
Traditional knowledge systems and medicines play an important role as a source of affordable treatment in Zimbabwe, according to Zhu.
Zimbabwe and China share a long history of cooperation in the health sector. Since 1985, China has sent 18 medical teams to the southern African country.