Namibia: Chinese Acupuncture Treatment Brings Better Health to Namibians

Windhoek — The Chinese Acupuncture Department at the Katutura State Hospital in Namibian capital Windhoek is bringing relief and better health to many locals.

Festus Tuhadeleni is one of the patients whose health has improved after undergoing an acupuncture treatment at the Chinese Acupuncture Department.

Let down by his worsening condition in the leg even after an operation at a local hospital, he tried acupuncture treatment. "Acupuncture restored my health. I am recovering well," said Tuhadeleni, whose pain in the leg has reduced after an acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese practice, treats patients by manipulating thin and solid needles that are inserted into acupuncture points in the skin.

According to Dr. Jiang Zhong, head of the department, acupuncture is an effective treatment for lower back pain and intestinal problems, paralysis of the face, insomnia, menopause problems, arthritis, sinus problems and sciatic pain amongst others. "There are no side effects. It has a history of success of over 3,000 years in China," he said.

The department, run by a team of four acupuncture experts (two nurses and two doctors) has treated numerous patients from across Namibia since its establishment in 1996. It is fully funded by the Chinese government. The doctors and nurses are also paid by the Chinese side.

The traditional Chinese medical practice is becoming more popular among Namibians given its excellent effect and its inexpensiveness. Besides, the treatment is free of charge.

The department receives on average between 600 and 700 patients every month. For the treatment, patients are required to bring along a health card or passport. "It is essential for doctors to do a thorough history check of patients in order to provide the correct treatment. This way we see how severe their conditions are. Some patients have a long history. Depending on how severe the condition of the patient is, we treat the patient in stages, of which the first stage is acute," Dr. Jiang explained.

A growing number of people are turning to acupuncture for help with conditions including weak joints and neck pains.

However, it was not an easy start introducing acupuncture treatment in Namibia. At first, the patients were reluctant to try. "Some patients were afraid when they hear that the treatment involves needles. And other patients just wanted to try and see if it works. But after their conditions improved, the word spread," Dr. Jiang said.

Word about the inexpensive Chinese acupuncture treatment has since spread across the country. And people travel over 800 km to access acupuncture treatment and therapy in Windhoek.

A 57-year-old patient, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that she had travelled from northern Oshakati to receive treatment. "I suffered from a gastric condition. It was severe and I had to retire prematurely from my teaching job last year."

"I was very sick and in a bad state. My family had even given up on me. Early this year, a friend referred me to a Chinese clinic in Windhoek. So I travelled from Oshakati to Windhoek tried Chinese medicine and therapy. My health improved. I am a regular at this acupuncture clinic at the Katutura State Hospital," said the long-time patient at the department during a follow-up session.

In fact, with a feat record of 17 year, the Chinese Acupuncture Department is highly valued by many people. "I am life-long guest of acupuncture," assured the 57-year-old lady.

In the meantime, to enhance acupuncture treatment in Namibia, following the signing of a memorandum between the University of Namibia and TCM University of Zhejiang Province, plans are underway for cooperation in traditional Chinese acupuncture between the two universities. This is in addition to an exchange of acupuncture doctors to come and train students at the School of Medicine in acupuncture, Dr. Jiang said.

According to Dr. Jiang, the department is open from Monday to Friday and "is open for everybody seeking health care."

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