WHO legitimises TCM; traditional medicine shouldn't be dismissed, but surely the unscientific should be discarded?
Alternative medicine—non-allopathic medicine—has always been viewed with scepticism. But no form perhaps elicits as much scorn as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It could be because its dependence on animal parts and its inexplicable popularity—inexplicable because there is very little evidence of most medicines/cure delivering—in China and abroad has led to entire species tottering and crashing . There are cases of success too. Artemisinin, the malaria cure that won Tu Youyou, a practitioner of TCM, the medicine Nobel in 2015, has been described in TCM texts. Now, the WHO has included TCM in its International Classification of Diseases, a highly influential text used to decide diagnosis protocols, and highly regarded by the insurance industry.
An artemisinin perhaps justifies such warming to TCM, but the fact is that for one artemisinin, there are hundreds of dubious products and “medicines” that will also receive legitimacy with such a blanket nod. Given how the Chinese government has doubled down on support to TCM even though it claims that it will only promote evidence-based medicine, the chances are that TCM will receive an unprecendented boost with the WHO’s endorsement. While traditional medicine shouldn’t be dismissed, the unscientific must be discarded. WHO legitmising TCM makes this all the more difficult.