Malaysia-China Sign MOU On Traditional Chinese Medicine

Malaysia’s Health Ministry aims to integrate traditional and complementary medicine with modern medicine as part of efforts to reduce the country’s disease burden.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 – Malaysia and China today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on traditional Chinese medicine, as part of the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) effort to professionalise the traditional and complementary medicine industry.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia is committed to developing the field of traditional and complementary medicine, with the aim of integrating the field with modern medicine as part of efforts to improve the health and life quality of all Malaysians.

“To achieve this vision, the traditional and complementary medicine industry will be professionalised by ensuring that traditional and complementary medicine services are safe, quality and accessible to all,” Khairy said in his speech at the virtual MOU signing ceremony between Malaysia and China on traditional chinese medicine in Putrajaya.

Traditional medicine as defined under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984 refers to any product used in the practice of indigenous medicine in which the drug consist solely of one or more naturally occurring substances of a plant, animal or mineral, of parts thereof, in the un-extracted or crude extract form, and a homoeopathic medicine, according to the government’s MyHealth website.

The latest MOU is an extension to an earlier agreement signed over a decade ago.

The two countries previously signed a similar MOU on November 7, 2011, with Malaysia represented by the then-Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai and China represented by Dr Wan Guoqiang, the former Commissioner National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (NATCM). The MOU, known as the “State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine” was effective until last year. 

Khairy said over the 10-year period, there have been various collaborations in the field of traditional medicine that were carried out under the MOU.

These include information sharing sessions – either through workshops, conferences or meetings – training for Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH) health personnel in institutions or hospitals in China, and the deputation of traditional Chinese medicine specialists from China to offer services in MOH hospitals.

Khairy, in his speech, described traditional medicine in Malaysia as unique in that it has its own history as a result of the various heritages, cultures, languages, and races in Malaysia. 

“Traditional medicine has always played an important role in the health care and wellbeing of Malaysians. In Malaysia, research in traditional and complementary medicine is still in its infancy.

Thus, the vast knowledge and expertise possessed by China in traditional medicine will certainly be able to benefit Malaysia, especially in research activities, including in the preventive and treatment aspects of communicable and non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

“Findings from the relevant research will assist the Malaysian government in setting appropriate policies to reduce the burden of disease in Malaysia,” Khairy said.

Khairy said the latest MOU is in line with the aspirations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Malaysian government which recognises the contribution of the traditional medical system in complementing the conventional medical system and enable the country to move towards better health.

“The MOH hopes that an effective communication network can be further strengthened for the purpose of exchanging technical, scientific and regulatory information, which in turn, will facilitate the process of making appropriate policies and strategies in ensuring safe and effective use of traditional medical services and products for public wellbeing,” Khairy said.

According to the WHO, 50 per cent of the 194 WHO member states had a national policy on traditional and complementary medicine by 2018, while 124 members reported presence of laws or regulations for herbal medicines as of 2018.

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