Recognise, accept TCM's contributions to healthcare

The regulatory stance on traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) seems contradictory.

On the one hand, there is a statutory TCM Practitioners Board; on the other, the merits of TCM physicians are unrecognised ("Support TCM, but not with blanket subsidies" by Mr Francis Cheng; Oct 16).

A year ago, I suddenly lost the use of my left arm due to nerve damage.

A neurosurgeon recommended surgery at tremendously high cost without guarantee of a cure; Western physiotherapy did little to help.

I did not opt for surgery due to my advanced age, previous operations and unfavourable conditions related to surgical risks.

I sought help through TCM instead.

After six months of treatment, my TCM clinic restored up to 75 per cent of my left hand's motor movement, using herbal remedies, tui na, and a rigorous daily exercise regime. All this cost 5 per cent of the estimated price of surgery.

This is not an argument for TCM to completely supplant modern medicine, but rather, to advocate TCM's use as a complementary means of treatment - an option to be cultivated.

TCM's unique system of theories, diagnostics and therapies has been refined over thousands of years.

Many case studies of successful TCM treatments for stroke and cancer patients have been published in reputable Western medical journals.

It is only fair to recognise and accept its contributions to medicine. In fact, most of our public hospitals offer TCM treatments for general ailments.

If the Government recognises the potential benefits of TCM, it therefore needs to treat it as an integral component of holistic healthcare, akin to any other medical specialisation.

By extension, patients should enjoy the same subsidies at TCM clinics as they do at clinics registered under the Community Health Assist Scheme.

It is wrong to assume that since there are charitable TCM organisations in Singapore, they are sufficient to meet the demand from our ageing population.

It is also illogical to exclude normal TCM clinics from equal government subsidies for Pioneer Generation card holders.

Paul Chan Poh Hoi