15 November 2018, UNESCO headquarters, Paris
Report by Nora Laubstein
Beginning at 8 a.m, a flock of visitors from around the world waited in front of the grey concrete palace of UNESCO in Paris to be let inside. Although off to a slightly late start, the day began. Mr. Dr. Denis Colin, the president of WADO (World Acupuncture Day Organization), moderated the event that was well-attended by many Chinese representatives.
The first speaker, the president of WFAS (World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion Societies), Professor Luis Bao-Yan, spoke out in favor of scientific research and integrative medicine. He pointed out the special role of the 34 Traditional Medicine (TM) centers around the world. Mr. Buon Hong Tan, a member of the Paris city-parliament, described the history of the application filed in 2009 that served to acknowledge and solidify acupuncture as Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH): Two hospitals, the St. Salpitiere in Paris, and a hospital in Hong Kong provided the practical basis for the application at UNESCO.
Mr. Michel Spinelli , the permanent representative of Greece in UNESCO, congratulated the organizers and pointed to the special role of Greece’s Hippocratic medicine. Mr. Laurent Stefanini, who represents France within UNESCO, emphasized the success of acupuncture treatment by talking about its use by actress Juliette Binoche.
Professor Yang Long-Hui discussed the government-funded, “China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences” (CACMS) and their research pool. [Further information for CACMS is available at: www.catcm.ac.cn.] For example, the research that led to the Nobel Prize for medicine in regard to Artemisinin comes from the CACMS.
The 34 worldwide TCM-centers’ efforts aid in the international dissemination of TCM. Such examples are the University of Leipzig, which currently has an integrative project, and the Sino-Austria TCM-center in Graz. The clinical guidelines that are created here are done so so that the guidelines can then be incorporated into the public healthcare systems. Finally, the president of the International Council of Medical Acupuncture and Related Techniques (ICMART), Mrs. Dr. Konstantina Theodoratou, spoke out for evidence-based acupuncture as well as integration into the public healthcare systems. In her opinion, present-day modern science already covers topics such as health balance and homeostasis.
The afternoon session started with a keynote speech from Mr. Yang Jin-Sheng, WFAS: Speaking about Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH), he focused on the concept of “safeguarding,” and said that neither the European nor national ICH should be construed as political or economical. Rather, the intention is to work to transfer, perpetuate, and continue the ICH for the future, for the next generation! The “silk road project” (“One belt, one road” 2016-2020) also includes Acupuncture/Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and shall serve to disseminate this tradition worldwide. China’s TCM industry has been working since 2013 on standardization and regulations in order to maintain credibility as well as acknowledgment worldwide. Mr. Gerd Ohmstede, the president of the European TCM association ‘ETCMA,' pointed out that TCM-therapists that have the highest TCM educational levels achievable in each specific country desire and should be granted the ability work in the public healthcare systems.
Mr. Yves Giarmon, the president of CFMTC (French Confederation of Chinese Traditional Medicine/Confédération française de Médecine Traditionnelle Chinoise) pointed to the significance of non-university educated therapists. For example, in France, this private qualified apprenticeship takes 3400 hours.
Mr. David Miller, president of the United States’ NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), noted that currently the US-military is the strongest advocate for holistic medicine. In the USA, the designation “Acupuncture and Oriental medicine” are commonly used and recognizable terminology.
Mr. John McDonald from Australia pointed out that TCM-therapists have had the ability to be legally registered in Australia since 2001. Presently, it is possible to graduate via one of five different Bachelor-studies in acupuncture. Furthermore, a foundation, the ANF-Acupuncture Now Foundation, has come into existence. Until now, however, acupuncture has not been integrated into the public system.
The engagement of the Chinese government is impressive and enviable; they are whole-heartedly behind TCM and the use of acupuncture. The dissemination of TCM and Acupuncture is part of the “Silk Road Project”; its current implementation in 34 centers worldwide was new information for me. Of course, there are also small differences here: On one hand, there is the uncompromising research under EBM-conditions, and on the other hand there is the profound cultural heritage. In fact, it is only in India where AYUSH—Ayurveda, Yoga, Unna, Siddha and Homeopathy—receive similar support. Europe and its national states, however, do not offer such widespread acceptance. On the contrary…: When I questioned a Greek parliamentary member on his opinion about Hippocratic medicine in Europe as cultural heritage and the fact that through a request of Greece it could become ICH, he declined saying: “No one is doing this anymore nowadays, now we have modern medicine!”
As it was reported in the last years, the WHO is currently developing a new diagnosis code ICD-11 that, as I came to understand in Paris, will, for the first time, contain an ICD-number for Traditional Medicine (TM). The vote on this was positive at the time, and the WHO is just working on the formalities/technicalities.
It is unbelievable: The course for the integration of acupuncture and the associated cultural concept into the Western public health care systems is set: TCM-centers, EBM-studies for integrative medicine, ICH-culture, and a diagnosis code-ICD laid out by WHO…What more do you need?!