HARARE, (Xinhua) — After receiving his second and last acupuncture treatment, Sebastian Jackson, 53, smiled as he showed everyone how powerful his grip had become. Just over a week ago, he could hardly shake hands with anyone without wincing in pain.
“It works! The first time I came here I was in pain and couldn’t shake hands with anyone, but now, as you can feel, my grip is very powerful,” he said triumphantly.
Jackson told Xinhua that he had had his wrists treated at the conventional medical centers but had found no luck.
Then he heard about the Zimbabwe-China Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Center at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, where treatment of ailments could be done using acupuncture. He decided to give it a try.
The treatment has been effective for Jackson, who is one of the thousands of Zimbabweans who have turned to the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) facility to have their diseases treated.
The center was designated by the Ministry of Health and Child Care in January 2020, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Zimbabwean and Chinese governments on cooperation in the field of TCM and acupuncture.
The facility, which will also house the country’s largest TCM training school and research center, started taking patients in November 2020.
By April this year, it had treated more than 150 people suffering from various ailments such as hypertension, lumbar spine pain, diabetes, hernia, and other health problems.
The center’s executive director, Sun Shuang, said that 48 percent of the patients were now locals, compared to the time it was opened when mostly Chinese nationals sought treatment there.
“We accept patients with emergency and urgent problems when there’s no other option for them. We don’t do advertisements. We have lots of patients only because of the good results on our other patients,” she said.
The doctor said the center was training more local doctors in traditional medicine, hoping that with time, more similar facilities will be opened throughout the country.
Karen Gurure, a China-trained Zimbabwean medical doctor who is interning at the clinic, told Xinhua that the major advantage of the TCM is that it has fewer side effects.
Gurure, who had studied at China’s Jiangxi University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said that more benefits could be derived from adopting the TCM, which uses complex patterns of imbalance within the body to determine a diagnosis while Western medicine tends to focus on diagnosing and treating illness based on a patient’s symptoms.
“TCM focuses on the whole body, while conventional medicine focuses on one certain part of the body. If you have back pain, conventional medicine would treat you for just the back pain, with TCM it treats the whole body,” she said.
Gurure said China offered valuable lessons to Zimbabwe in terms of modernizing and codifying traditional medicine.
Zimbabwe has a long history of using traditional herbal remedies, which are still the most affordable and easily accessible source of treatment for many people.
Recognized as a formal part of the country’s healthcare system, traditional remedies still remain a largely untapped health resource due to a lack of comprehensive research, Gurure said.
Sun said the center was ready to help Zimbabwean health professionals discover their traditional medicine so that they could offer better services to their patients.
To her, every patient’s experience is a memorable one. “Every patient who comes here would love to be back again,” she said.