The 9th World Congress of Chinese Medicine was held in Kuching, Malaysia on November 10th and 11,th 2012. Hosted by the World Federation of Chinese Medical Societies (WFCMS), an international world organization with headquarters in Beijing, China, the Congress provides an annual platform for practitioners of Chinese medicine from all over the world to publish clinical studies and findings and to present the latest developments in Chinese medicine. Fifty countries and regions have representatives in the Congress; five intercontinental groups and 147 national organizations that include intercontinental Asia, North and South America, Africa and the European Union. The theme for this gathering was "Traditional Chinese Medicine Contributing Factor to the Harmony of Human and Nature.”
The WFCMS mission is to "make greater contributions to the health of mankind through the following objectives: to strengthen understanding and cooperation among international Chinese Medical Societies, to promote academic exchange, to improve the professional standards of Chinese Medicine, to protect and develop Chinese Medicine, and to promote exchange and cooperation between Chinese Medicine and other medicines in the world.” The previous eight Congresses were held in Beijing, Paris, Toronto, Singapore, Macau, Melbourne, Hague and London.
Deborah Lincoln, MSN, RN, RAc, Dipl Ac, NCCAOM, president emeritus of AAAOM, attended the 9th annual Congress as a representative of the AAAOM.
AAAOM: What circumstances led to your attendance at the Congress?
DL: The WFCMS advised the AAAOM that they were seeking representation from the United States at their annual Congress and extended an invitation to AAAOM President Michael Jabbour. (Michael is the current vice chairman of WFCMS for the United States) Michael asked me to fill in for him as his obligations here would not allow him to travel abroad. So I agreed to represent our organization, and to take notes for our organization in Michael’s place. I had the kind help of the WFCMS in organizing my journey. I worked with Doreen Chen, past board member and long time AAAOM member, who acted as my interpreter through the process, our preparations to travel to the Congress as well as during the trip we took to China afterwards.
AAAOM: Tell us about your experience of attending the Congress.
DL: I was invited to board meetings that lasted several hours and attended meetings of some special committees. Throughout these meetings it was apparent to me that people across the globe are working together as a team to increase recognition of TCM throughout the world and raise it to a level of common standardization. The issues of recognition faced by TCM are global, and we are all striving to reach the goal of inclusion of TCM with mainstream medicine. Many people approached me to make sure I knew that we are sought after as a nation for inclusion in the WFCMS. There was a great turnout; 1200 people attended the Congress. It was different than our conferences in the U.S. in terms of vendors; there were only around 20 vendor booths. Flying into Malaysia is expensive, and I think the cost affected vendor turnout.
AAAOM: Tell us about your interactions with practitioners from other nations:
DL: I met practitioners from around the globe, including Australia, England, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Korea, several Chinese provinces, South Africa, Singapore, Thailand, Canada and Taiwan. I was officially introduced to, and got to spend one on one time with, members of WFCMS including She Jing, chairperson of WFCMS and the vice minister of health in China, Secretary General of WFCMS Li Zhenji, and Vice Secretary of WFCMS Huang Jian Yin as well as other board members.
Thanks to the WFCMS, I was able to have many interactions with practitioners from mainland China. During the planning for this trip I was invited to visit China after the Congress for a tour of the WFCMS headquarters, a number of medical facilities and famous clinics. Journeying into China was a key experience for me in understanding what we can do as American practitioners to form better relations with China. They were incredibly gracious to me and allowed me to tour medical facilities and see the way their country practices Chinese medicine.
I was able to attend several presentations and formal lectures, which I selected from the 156 papers presented ranging from TCM development, clinical research, experimental studies, acupuncture and meridians, the study of traditional Chinese medicinals, and clinical experience.
I sat in on several pediatric classes: a clinical evaluation of the effect on asthma in children treated by a series proved prescription of TCM,
spleen/stomach theories and application, and exploration of stagnated heat pathogenesis in syndromes of the pulmonary system. I also attended lectures on "Adult Rheumatology with TCM: How to Maximize the Therapeutic Effects,” "Chinese Medicine for Treating Ankylosing Spondylitis,” and a study of "TCM and Western Medicine Approaches to Treatment of Malignant Tumors in Taiwan.”
One of the important things I learned during the conference was that the governments of Australia and Singapore passed a law to legalize the practice of Chinese medicine inclusive of the adoption of a national exam. The national exams held by these countries are, as far as they could gather, the first in the world. Australia’s law was just passed in June 2012.
AAAOM: What did you learn about the regulatory and political difficulties faced by practitioners in other countries and how those battles relate to the ones we fight here in the U.S.?
DL: The Congress is focused on global issues, and problems within individual nations were not discussed in the meetings. I learned that the problems we face in the United States regarding AOM are similar to the problems faced by all nations who attend the Congress. We are a bit ahead in some ways through regulations regarding hygiene and standard models of care.
The WFCMS recognizes inclusion and standardization as global issues. As an organization, the WFCMS works to create a level of standardization that will enable good communication on a global scale. The Congress works through committees to address the following concerns: positive academic communications and cooperation, the regional development of TCM, the development of international standards including basic nomenclature, basic nomenclature of Chinese material medica, a coding system of Chinese herbal medicine, clinical terms for Chinese medicine, and research to establish the efficacy of TCM. These goals are being worked on through meetings that bring representatives from various countries together with representatives from China.
The Congress is only one of many conferences and forums held by the WFCMS. The organization hosts 51 specialty committees which focus on particular issues, issues within specific countries, and specific diseases. Most committees organize seminars on their own subjects and professions, and they conduct activities on technical communication and various personnel training sessions.
I was inspired to see the level of cooperation and inclusion between countries at the Congress. This experience clarified for me one of the major stumbling blocks we are facing in the U.S. The Congress has developed a combination of connections between international organizations to work toward the same goals. We need this level of connection and open communication to go forward effectively here in this country. I think participation with this organization will teach us how to accomplish better cooperation by example.
The past eight Congresses have been held around the world, and the support they have received is impressive. Attendance at the yearly Congress keeps growing; I think that is an indication of the success of the work being done by WFCMS. By comparison with 2011, this year’s Congress showed a nearly 50% growth in attendance.
From left: Loh Yang Hui, Chairman of the World Congress of Chinese Medicine representing Malaysian Chinese medicine; Jing Chen of New York, representing United Alliance of NY licensed acupuncturists; She Jing, Minister of Health China, Secretary General Li Zhenji, Deborah Lincoln and Brian Loh, vice president of the National Federation of Chinese TCM Organizations (NFCTCMO) and WFCMS board member
AAAOM: What were the outcomes of the conference?
DL: I realized through my experience that the national organizations within the U.S., which support our profession, need to learn to work more cooperatively. I also realized how important it is that we form good relationships with our international partners. We are working on many of the same professional problems, so it makes sense to participate with the WFCMS in forming solutions that work across the globe. WFCMS is working to address issues of branding and the need for an international platform for the professions of TCM. As the Congress works to define standards and set an international course for our profession, we need to include ourselves in the discussions and agreements being created.
I was invited by Li Zhenji to participate at the 10th Congress, which will be held September 21-22 in Santa Clara, California. The theme for the Congress will be "Cooperation Between Eastern and Western Medicine; Better Health Services for People Around the World” and will also celebrate the 10th anniversary of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies. The AAAOM will be co-hosting the 10th Congress with the National Federation of Chinese TCM Organizations of California. I was invited onto the organizing committee for this 10th World Congress by President Angela Tu of the NFCTCMO. The WFCMS has released a call for papers for the 10th Congress. The WFCMS wants to send 300 representatives from China to the gathering of the 10th Congress here in Santa Clara, California, just south of San Francisco. They are requesting support through invitations from organizations in the U.S. that will enable them to get visas for the practitioners wishing to attend. I have passed this request to the AAAOM board.
I made new friends during the Congress, people who offer new thoughts and means of support for our profession. I gained a better understanding of global medical issues and the problems faced by members of the TCM community abroad, especially in China. My visit in China after the Congress helped me to understand many of the communication issues we face between nations. I was reminded that language and cultural barriers can create miscommunications that hamper good understanding; we need to be careful in translation and in listening to each other. It was stressed to me that the Chinese want to keep the name "Chinese medicine;” they want to keep the true tradition of the medicine and hope to show this by keeping the name. The other nations at the Congress were very respectful to the Chinese by showing respect for their cultural traditions and showing that they do not want to change the formation of Chinese medicine. The Chinese feel that if you do not call it Chinese medicine you are not practicing the same thing.
In closing, I want to relate my great thanks to Doreen Chen for her skills in translation, accommodations in China through her relatives, and her good company. I also want to relate special thanks to Ann Wong (AAAOM board member and CAC Representative) for her assistance in setting up all our connections in Beijing along with the leaders of WFCMS both at Kuching Conference and in China. The leaders of the WFCMS traveled from Kuching to another conference; Ann kindly guided Doreen and me to WFCMS headquarters and a number of medical facilities. We toured the Xiyuan Hospital CACMS, an integrative medicine hospital where I visited two of the many specialized wards in oncology and cardiovascular diseases. I also went to the Institute of Chinese MateriaMedica China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences and then visited the well-known out-patient clinic, Yang Shen Tang (which translates to English as "Keep Good for Your Life”) which hosts an herbal pharmacy, acupuncture treatments, and a specialized section for acne. We visited other clinics where AOM is practiced and received a treatment by an 80-yr-old famous pulse diagnostician. I am grateful to these two women for helping to make my travels comfortable and keeping me well informed.
Look for a follow-up article with Deborah about her experiences in China in an issue of The American Acupuncturist.
To learn more about the WFCMS and the 9th Congress:
WFCMS Conference Presentation PDF