Traditional ethics helps create healthy doctor-patient relationship in Tibetan medical system

When Yao Xiaowu, president of Diqing Tibetan Medicine Hospital, said no doctor-patient conflicts had ever happened in the hospital over the past 30 years since the hospital’s founding day, it came as a big surprise given the frequent occurrence of doctor-patient conflicts in China’s big cities like Beijing, Guangdong, and Chongqing in recent years.

The most important factor behind this amicable relationship, according to Yao, is the six moral values stipulated in the Tibetan medical tantras - intelligence, benevolence, oath, worldly wisdom, hygiene, as well as diligence.

“Only when a person truly internalizes these six moral values is he or she qualified to serve in the Tibetan medicine hospital,” Yao said.

Diqing Tibetan Medicine Hospital was established in 1987, and it was the first and only hospital in Yunnan province practicing Tibetan medical system. The hospital was moved to the current location in Shangri-la city of Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of south China’s Yunnan province in 2014 after six years of reconstruction under a guideline of the local government to promote traditional Tibetan medical system in 2008.

Having worked as the president of the hospital for over 10 years, Yao said while some of the patients coming to the Tibetan medicine hospital are those who got intractable diseases, 90% are those who have “faith in Tibetan medicine”.

Yao’s predecessor who had already passed away was not only a Tibetan medicine doctor, but also a renowned living Buddha in Diqing prefecture, according to Yao. The first thing Yao learned from him was the code of conduct a Tibetan medicine doctor should keep in mind when treating his or her patients, instead of medicine theories.

Traditional Tibetan medicine is a centuries-old traditional medical system that employs a complex approach to diagnosis, incorporating techniques such as pulse analysis and urinalysis, and utilizes behavior and dietary modification, medicines composed of natural materials and physical therapies to treat illness.

While Tibetan medicine also has a complete medical theory system like traditional Chinese medicine, it is not yet as popular as traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine in China, Yao said. There are only over 3,000 Tibetan medicine workers throughout China, he revealed.

Historically Tibetan medicine only served Tibet and places like Qinghai, Yunnan, and Sichuan where Tibetans lived, but in fact this traditional medicine can be applied to much more people beyond Tibetans. What needs to be paid attention to is that the way and quantity of using the Tibetan medicine should depend on the body constitution of each person, Yao said.

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