HARARE: The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture Center at the Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe, has started training on TCM and acupuncture for the first batch of local health workers in order to meet the growing demand for Chinese medicine in the country.
Zhu Wei, a TCM doctor and chief of the centre, said the three-month program aims to train a group of local health professionals who can provide an alternative medical option to Zimbabweans.
“We hope to train a team of personnel who are specializing in TCM and acupuncture, and we hope that after the training they can master the basic of acupuncture and the basic knowledge of TCM techniques,” he told Xinhua in an interview.
Zhu, who is also the head of 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 disease by inspection, inquiry, palpation and auscultation. So for those people who cannot afford to take the scan they can benefit from TCM and acupuncture. After we diagnose the patient we can use acupuncture and Chinese cups (cupping therapy) to cure them,” Zhu said.
“TCM and acupuncture, it’s general medicine”. It can be used in different fields and different specialties like in the bone system. We can treat different pains like neck pain, low back pain and arthritis, headache, etc. It can also be applied in the digestive system, neurological system and vascular system.”
The centre, established in 2020 as part of efforts to offer Zimbabweans affordable medical treatment, has in recent months seen a multitude of patients seeking medical attention free of charge.
Before the introduction of the program, Adam Muchenje, a nursing tutor, had attended training and workshops on TCM in China.
“The opening up of this clinic is a blessing to me and the patients because I am now going to have a chance of practicing at the same time helping people,” he said.
“The knowledge that I attained in China and that I am getting now is going to help in treating the patients, in educating the people on how they can get treatment, combine it with the Western type of medicine so that we bring out the best for our people.”
Tatenda Chimbunde, a trainee of the center who is a recent graduate from the China Pharmaceutical University, said it is her duty to share what she learned in China for the benefit of locals.
“When I was a student in China, apart from just learning about the Western Pharmacy, just learned more about identifying traditional Chinese plants, and the teachers would talk about the benefits of these natural herbs. We also go to use some of them in our daily lives,” Chimbunde said.
“So upon coming back to Zimbabwe when I heard that they were introducing TCM and acupuncture, I saw it as an opportunity to learn to combine their own natural way of treating people with what I have learned as a pharmacist student.”
Another trainee, Richard Mutingwende, who is a natural therapist specializing in homeopathy, said incorporating TCM in his practice will greatly enhance his work.
“I have referred so many patients here at this center for treatment. Within a few weeks, or within a few sessions they will quickly recover even after a very long period of suffering with a chronic condition such as spinal injuries, issues such as stroke,” Mutingwende said.
“We are talking of a system which embraces what we call holistic approach. The system is non-invasive. It means it’s safe, it doesn’t have any side effects and it’s affordable, so I decided to take acupuncture so that I add it into my practice as a homeopathic practitioner.”
Melba Mafika, who was involved in a car accident, has been experiencing side effects due to medication.
“The reason why I decided to come here is that I have been having some bad side effects with medication. If I take my pain medication I feel drowsy. Sometimes I can’t work properly, so I needed something that can relieve my pain while I can still manage to go about with my day-to-day duties,” she said.
Traditional knowledge systems and medicines play an important role as an affordable source of treatment in Zimbabwe, according to Zhu.
Zimbabwe and China share a long history of cooperation in the health sector. Since 1985, China has dispatched 18 medical teams to the southern African country.