China's TM/CAM System


  • About one third of outpatient services and a quarter of inpatient services are handled by TCM practitioners in the rural area.
  • A survey conducted by SATCM (The State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine) shows that there are estimated 3.1 billion outpatient visits per year in China and most often to village health centres. Besides, it is estimated that there are about 38.9% of patients going to outpatient department of village health centres, followed by rural TCM hospitals (27%) (1).
  • WHO stated that traditional herbal preparations account for 30%-50% of the total medicinal consumption in China(2).


Official Body

State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, SATCM


Address: State Administration of TCM, 13, Baijiazhuang, Dongli Chaoyang, Beijing 100026.
Contact No: +86-10-65063322
Fax No: +86-10-65950776
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Main therapies


Policy & Regulations

  • All the practitioners are regulated by the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SATCM) in order to protect public health and consumers in China.
  • They must have all the required qualifications before they can offer any TCM treatment to the public. To become a TCM physician, one has to possess a degree. One wishes to be specialized as a TCM practitioner will have to study from five to seven years, whereas a diploma holder may practise TCM in a more limited fashion as a medical assistant and are only permitted to open their own practice in rural towns and villages(1).
  • On the other hand, a pharmacist in TCM will have to study for a 4-year course which includes TCM pharmacology(2). The Chinese pharmacopoeia was first published in 1963.
  • TCM products are regulated in Anthology of Policies (SATCM 1997). There are national standards for TCM products before they can be marketed in or outside China. All the products must meet quality and safety standards.
  • In 1949, the national policy on TCM was issued, the national programme was issued in 1954(3)while the regulations in 1963. The State Drug Administration became responsible for regulatory issues relating to traditional medicine.
  • There are other policies and regulations pertaining to this country in its endeavour to regulate TCM. For further information, please review Status of Traditional Medicine and Complementary/ Alternative Medicine: A Worldwide Review, WHO 2001


  • There are about 95% of general hospitals in China which have traditional medicine departments(4). Up to December 2002, there are about 3801 TCM organization in China and around 2864 TCM government hospitals with a total of 272861 ward beds.
  • Roughly, there are about 200 millions outpatients receiving treatment annually in TCM hospitals and 50% of rural doctors are able to provide both traditional and allopathic medicine by offering one third of outpatient services and a quarter of inpatient services.
  • Many hospitals are open on saturday and sunday due to high patient turnover everyday and one does not need to make an appointment to consult a TCM doctor.

Insurance coverage

Health insurance covers treatment costs of both allopathic and traditional medicine.

Research Institute/s

  • In China, roughly about 15000 professionals are involved in scientific research on TCM because currently there is a move towards evidence-based medicine.
  • The research emphasizes the standard of quality control and on systemic research.
  • Some research institutes/universities :
  1. Chinese Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine
  2. Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
  3. Institute of Acupuncture Research, Shanghai medical College
  4. Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Training & Education

  • TCM education system is available in China and offers undergraduate programmes, masters and doctorate degrees, open to local and overseas student.
  • There are about 28 universities and colleges offering TCM programmes and 57 secondary schools teaching traditional Chinese medicine (5). Both allopathic medicines and TCM subjects are included in the curriculum.
  • Once a student graduates, he or she will be assigned to work in TCM hospitals and other facilities related to TCM.
  • If a graduate from TCM is interested to open his or her own practice, he or she will have to get a licence by sitting and passing a TCM examination organised by China Ministry of Health.
  • Medical education in China is fully integrated, hence, although there are more medical colleges teaching allopathic medicine, there is always one department in it teaching traditional Chinese medicine. Similarly, in every traditional Chinese medical college, there is always one department teaching allopathic medicine.



  1. Who Global Atlas of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine., G.Bodeker,C.K Ong, C.Grundy,G.Burford,K.Shein.
  2. Traditional Medicine, Fact sheet N°134. WHO. Revised May 2003. accessed 4 July 2007.
  3. Legal Status of Traditional Medicine and Complementary/Alternative Medicine: A Worldwide Review,WHO 2001, Pg 8
  4. Complementary Therapies in Medicine,G.J. Dobosa,Pg 188
  5. National Policy on Traditional Medicine and Regulation on Herbal Medicine,WHO ,Geneva 2005
  6. Bodeker G. 2001. Lessons on integration from developing world's experience. British Medical Journal 322:164-7
  7. Legal status of traditional medicine and complementary /alternative medicine: a worldwide review. WHO 2001