“By seizing the opportunity created by the development of a provincial-level exemplary city for TCM innovation and a state-level TCM comprehensive reform pilot zone, Huizhou will further improve its TCM service system, create a TCM healthcare service mode and increase efforts on TCM technological innovation, so as to achieve the leapfrog development of TCM sector. ” Huizhou municipal government made this point of view clear at the recently concluded Healthcare Work Meeting, calling for greater efforts to speed up the development of TCM sector in the city.
In June last year, Huizhou municipal government submitted an application to the central government, aiming to be selected to pilot the state-level TCM comprehensive reform. Huizhou’s application featured TCM healthcare as the theme and covered the development of three major systems, three platforms and three development bases. In February this year, the development of a provincial-level exemplary city for TCM innovation was included in the Huizhou Party Congress Report and the Government Report of Huizhou Municipal Government; and the TCM was treated as one of the three pillar industries of Huizhou City.
Huizhou’s TCM sector sees an annual growth of 30%
On June 14, 2016, a TV crew visited the Luofu Mountain of Huizhou, aiming to produce a large-scale documentary, titled Ge Hong’s Art of Healing, featuring Ge Hong, who was a Taoist scholar, famous alchemist and pharmacologist during the East Jin Dynasty.
Almost at the same time, the Fine Spirit of a National Physician at the Luofu Mountain, a book that aimed to portray the TCM development in Huizhou in the past decades, was officially published.
Huizhou is a city that carries the TCM gene, and TCM always places a significant role in the city’s development.
Back in the 1980s Huizhou’s Boluo County was home to 5 famous pharmaceutical factories in China; and in recent years the city’s TCM output value has seen an average annual growth of 30%. As of now there are a total of 9 Chinese herbal preparation enterprises, with the total plantation area of Chinese herbal medicine exceeding 10,000 mu; while the city’s projected GDP contributed by its TCM sector exceeds 2 billion yuan.
In 2016, Huizhou officially introduced the Implementation Scheme for Advancing the TCM Development in Huizhou.
In line with this implementation scheme, by 2020 all county-level TCM hospitals in the city should have reached the national grade-two standard; while the number of general medical practitioner among grass-roots TCM hospitals should reach 60% of the total by 2020.
Bottleneck: The GDP contributed by the TCM sector is relatively small within Huizhou’s total GDP
However, the TCM development also encountered a series of major problems.
According to a recent market research report, the output value contributed by the TCM sector only accounted for a relatively small proportion amidst the city’s industrial GDP. The TCM industry was small in scale, and there wasn’t any TCM enterprise with the annual output value exceeding 1 billion yuan; in addition, there wasn’t any listed company among Huizhou’s TCM enterprises.
This problem was further worsened by the low-profit nature of made-in-Huizhou TCM products, as most locally produced traditional Chinese medicine preparations were ordinary medicines, with very low scientific and technological content. In recent years, many TCM enterprises, including Luofu Mountain National Medicine, Xinfeng Pharmaceutical and Jiuhui Pharmaceutical, have tried to improve their technical standard through university-industry collaboration programs; however, among the city’s all traditional Chinese medicine preparations each with an annual sales revenue exceeding 50 million yuan, there were only three products meeting this threshold, namely rheumatism plaster and Inflammation-Resolving Gall-Bladder-Excreting Tablet from Luofu Mountain National Medicine and Ganmaoling Granules from Xinfeng Pharmaceutical.
Solutions: Approach 1---
To provide subsidy for the university-industry collaboration programs
Huizhou has set aside a special fund that aims to subsidize 42 scientific and technological research projects by TCM enterprises and promote the university-industry collaboration in the TCM sector.
The recent Healthcare Work Meeting once again reiterated the importance of R&D in the TCM sector. According to Mr. Liu Qingrong, Deputy Director of Huizhou Health Bureau, “effort will be made to encourage TCM enterprises to engage in R&D activities, launch new TCM products and build the brand of made-in-Huizhou drugs”. In addition, Huizhou will strengthen cooperation with higher education institutions and R&D centers and speed up the commercial application of research findings in the TCM sector.
Some TCM enterprises have already started their university-industry collaboration projects. On November 6, 2018, the Postdoctoral Research Station of Luofu Mountain National Medicine was officially inaugurated. And till now, the company has applied for 126 invention patents, including 60 patents being granted.
The coordinated development of an exemplary city and a pilot zone
Mr. Liu Qingrong expressed his view at the recent Healthcare Work Meeting, saying that “By seizing the opportunity created by the development of a provincial-level exemplary city for TCM innovation and a state-level TCM comprehensive reform pilot zone, Huizhou will eventually achieve the leapfrog development of TCM sector.”
By leveraging the unique advantage of Huizhou, such as the brand effect of Luohu Mountain, Huizhou will reallocate the available TCM resources, improve TCM-pro development policies, cultivate more TCM health professionals, establish a working TCM research platform and promote the healthy growth of TCM industry. Some of these development strategies will include the “TCM+health tour”, “TCM+healthcare” and “TCM+health industry”, and effort will be made to transform the city into a state-level TCM healthcare cultural base, an exemplary base for TCM health tour, an educational base for TCM healthcare, a TCM innovation base and the plantation base for South China medicinal plants.
In order to build a provincial-level exemplary TCM innovation city, Huizhou will try its best to integrate TCM’s concept of preventive treatment of disease with modern TCM diagnosis technology, and accelerate the TCM R&D and plantation of traditional herbal plants. In addition, by making full use of the rare opportunity created by the development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Huizhou will prioritize the development of several key areas, including TCM diagnose, TCM health maintenance, new drug development, circulation, herbal plant plantation, formulate scientific planning strategies, build a high-quality TCM service system through the introduction of talent and technical guidance, so as to promote the healthy growth of healthcare industry.
To build a healthcare base that is compatible with the world-class Greater Bay Area
In line with the Notice on the Key Works of the Implementation of the Guangdong-Macao Cooperation Framework Agreement in 2018 released by Guangdong provincial government, Huizhou is required to build an international healthcare tour pilot demonstration area, with Luofu Mountain TCM tour industrial base as its pilot program. It is evident that this pilot policy will add a new impetus to the healthy growth of comprehensive health industry in Huizhou.
The Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area was officially released on February 18 this year, and the development of TCM was mentioned several times at the report.
According to Mr. Liu Qingrong, “We will focus our development efforts in Luohu Mountain, and accelerate the development of a five-in-one cluster that incorporates TCM treatment, TCM healthcare, TCM rehabilitation, new drug development and TCM higher education, and we will build a healthcare base that is compatible with the world-class Greater Bay Area.”
Thanks to Huizhou’s vast development space, rich TCM natural resources and favorable eco-environment, the development of comprehensive health industry is likely to become a new blue ocean for Huizhou to deepen cooperation with Hong Kong, Macao and other cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.