UWC hosts seminar on SA-China traditional medicine collaboration in the fight against Covid-19
The International Relations Office of the University of the Western Cape (UWC) hosted the first of a series of South Africa-China Traditional Medicine Collaboration Seminars on 28th October, 2020.
The Confucius Institute for Chinese Medicine at UWC and the Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences organized the online seminar with 29 traditional healers attending on-site at the Newspaper House in downtown Cape Town.
The seminar drew an online audience of 54 from four universities and affiliated hospitals in China, several scholars from TCM Confucius Institutes in different continents, as well as scholars and traditional healers in South Africa.
Dr. Xuesheng Ma, from the Department of TCM, chaired the seminar. The director of UWC’s International Relations Office, Mr Umesh Bawa and Dean of the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences, Prof. Anthea Rhoda, welcomed the guests. They both emphasized the important role of traditional and alternative medicines in the South African health care landscape and hoped that the discussions will contribute to a better understanding of the different modalities of health care.
Prof. Wang Xinlu, Member of the Shangdong Provincial Covid-19 Prevention Committee and former president of Shangdong Traditional Chinese Medical University, presented the history, development and innovations of TCM and its role in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19. He pointed out that a sound theoretical framework is the solid foundation on which a traditional medical system can sustain and thrive.
Ms. Carol van Wyk, Director of Knowledge Management at the Department of Science and Innovation, showcased the national recordable system and the Department’s efforts in documenting indigenous knowledge regarding traditional medicine and food. Several herbs have been identified and included in the Covid-19 strategic research towards the development of pharmacological anti-corona solutions within the indigenous knowledge system context.
Dr. Dong Lei, a physician from Zhejiang Chinese Medical University who volunteered his service in Wuhan during the initial outbreak and hence won a national medal of honour, demonstrated several actual cases where he treated the patients with TCM prescriptions and achieved great results.
Dr Phepsile Maseko, National Coordinator of the Traditional Healers Organization of South Africa, presented case studies of African Traditional Medicine treatment options and plants for Covid-19. She pointed out that Traditional medicine is cheap, accessible and was effective in treating the Spanish Flu. It is also effective in symptomatic management of Covid-19.
She urged that traditional healers be included and trained in all levels of planning and implementation of treatment and prevention. She called upon China to collaborate with South Africa to grow and develop African Traditional Medicine, and also highlighted a pilot project with three provinces in China for institutionalizing traditional medicine in the national health care system.
The presentations were followed by a question-and-answer session chaired by Dr Hlupheka Chabalala, Director of Indigenous Knowledge-based Technology Innovation, the Department of Science and Technology and Dr. Xuesheng Ma. Representatives of the traditional healers on-site thanked the organizer for the opportunity of traditional medicine exchange and knowledge-sharing. They asked about funding and collaborative research opportunities available from China. Mr. Shen Long, Minister-Counselor of the Science and Technology Section, Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in South Africa, replied that there are several funding and collaborative research programmes in progress.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Shen stated that several TCM prescriptions have shown to be effective in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19. China has shared Covid-19 TCM therapies and prescriptions with over 80 countries. The Embassy will provide more resources for South Africa-China traditional medicine collaboration. China will work closely with South Africa to end this pandemic.