1 A warm thank you to the NTU Chinese Medicine Alumni Association for inviting me to this symposium titled "Furthering Chinese Medicine in Singapore‟. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been around even before Singapore's independence, providing healthcare to the early settlers. Over the years, not only has TCM established a strong presence among the Chinese community, it has also been increasingly sought after by the non-Chinese community as an alternative or complementary treatment.
2 NTU's Double Degree in Biomedical Sciences and Chinese Medicine program was launched in 2005, and the first batch graduated 2 years ago. The NTU Chinese Medicine Alumni Association was formed in August last year with the aim to unite these graduates. I understand that the Alumni also aims to work with other TCM organisations to further advance the development of TCM in Singapore. The Association provides these graduates with a platform for interaction, exchange ideas and share best practices with the other stakeholders in the TCM community. This collaborative approach is indeed most commendable.
3 As TCM develops, it is necessary that its role be tailored to the needs of the current generation of Singaporeans. Please allow me to share some thoughts on TCM in Singapore.
4 Knowledge advances over time. Particularly for our NTU alumni, it is perhaps appropriate to share a Chinese adage that goes “It is never too old to learn”. Learning does not stop at graduation. The public expects our skills and knowledge to be up to date.
5 I am happy to hear that the TCM community has already taken on this challenge. TCM organisations like the Singapore College of TCM and Eu Yan Sang have already started their own form of “Continuing TCM Education”. This is
encouraging and I would urge more practitioners to take up continuing education. Over time, this will raise the standing of TCM physicians and advance the fraternity in our community. Experienced TCM practitioners are an important resource to younger practitioners on the finer points on TCM practice through these Continuing TCM Education sessions.
6 I hope that through symposia like this, and possibly leveraging on platforms like NTU's Chinese Medicine Alumni Association, we can enhance communication, understanding and interaction, and facilitate academic exchanges between practitioners of Western and Eastern medicine.
7 This leads me to the topic of research. Local research in TCM currently lags behind countries with a shorter history of TCM than Singapore. For example, several scientific institutions across the US are conducting TCM related studies on acupuncture, arthritis, asthma and abuse of alcohol and drugs with the support of the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. In Australia, a number of clinical trials of acupuncture on allergic rhinitis, pain and women's health have been carried out. In order to raise awareness, and elevate the standing, of TCM, we should be open to conducting more research on TCM treatment. Apart from establishing the safety and efficacy of existing treatment modalities, I would encourage the local TCM community to look into niche areas of research which can reflect our unique multi-cultural background and local health care settings. This is where I think the graduates from NTU can take the lead. With your background in biomedical science and the infrastructure support from NTU, you can work with the various TCM clinics and drive relevant research.
8 Although TCM and Western medicine are etched in different philosophies, research findings can provide a common language for the public to understand which TCM therapies have been proven to be safe and effective. Research findings will also empower them to make informed choices.
9 Finally, it is my wish for the different generations of forward-looking TCM physicians to work together to raise the standards of the profession and bring Chinese Medicine in Singapore to even greater heights. To realise this, it is important that the various players in the community work together for the benefit of the public, so that it may continue to grow stronger.
10 I wish everyone a fruitful and enjoyable time for the rest of the symposium.
11 Thank you.