Shanxi is firmly on track to grow into a strong province of traditional Chinese medicine with a deep-rooted tradition, a rich variety of products and an enhanced service system, Feng Lizhong, spokesman for the Shanxi Health Commission, said at a news conference on Aug 1.
Feng, who is also the deputy chief of the commission and head of the Shanxi Center for Disease Control and Prevention, announced at the event that a set of new administrative regulations for the TCM sector were taking effect from the same day.
"The new regulations, with articles relating to TCM services, protection of TCM resources, industrial development, TCM inheritance and innovation, as well as market regulation, are expected to offer a sound policy and legal environment for the sector's healthy, sustainable and high-quality development," Feng told the news conference.
The official said Shanxi has unique and rich resources for developing the TCM industry.
A recent survey shows that Shanxi is home to 1,788 varieties of medical herbs that can be used for making medicines. Of these varieties, the herbs of polygala root, forsythia, Chinese Baikal skullcap and Chinese thorowax account for 70 percent, 50 percent, 40 percent and 25 percent of the domestic market share. Ten varieties, including hairy asiabell from Pingshun county, astragalus from Hengshan Mountain and forsythia from Anze county, have been granted national geographical indications.
In recent years, Shanxi has stepped up efforts in domesticating wild medical herbs and developing standardized herb farms.
According to Wang Shuanfu, an official at the Shanxi Department of Agricultural and Rural Affairs, Shanxi has now dedicated more than 230,000 hectares of land to the domesticated farming of herbs and another 67,000 hectares to standardized herb farming.
"These farms had an annual output of more than 500,000 metric tons in recent years, with annual sales revenue surpassing 8.2 billion yuan ($1.21 billion)," Wang said. "More than 1,000 enterprises and cooperatives have been engaged in the farming and processing of medical herbs."
The huge market scale of the TCM industry in Shanxi is also represented by the huge number of finished TCM products.
Statistics show that the province is home to 790 finished TCM products, including 113 varieties unique to Shanxi.
According to local media reports, Shanxi's TCM sector played a role in the fight against the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. The province was among the first in China to propose TCM-focused therapies for the prevention and treatment of the virus.
Shanxi released an implementation plan for building a strong TCM industry in 2020, requiring more medical institutions focusing on TCM to be developed in the county-level administrative regions.
To date, 88 counties and cities in Shanxi have TCM hospitals and TCM clinics have been established in most townships, according to the Shanxi Health Commission.
Guo Yanjie contributed to this story.