Dr Peng Wang a specialist in acupuncture - a drugs-free alternative medicine that has evolved into one of the most utilized forms of complementary integrative medicine - says a handful of Namibian medical insurance firms have finally agreed to sanction the therapy, thus enabling medical insurers to start accepting acupuncture claims.
It took three years of painstaking meetings with the Health Professions Council of Namibia (HPCNA), which is the body regulating health practitioners, and the Namibian Association of Medical Aid Funds (Namaf), the controlling body for medical aid schemes, for the parties to choose appropriate medical coding.
This made Namibia one of the few African countries with standard medical coding for acupuncture and Tui Na (a branch of Traditional Chinese Medicine often used in conjunction with acupuncture), unlocking doors for local medical insurance to accept acupuncture.
Medical aid funds that accept acupuncture and other Chinese traditional therapies include the Public Service Employees Medical Aid Scheme (Psemas), Nammed, Prosperity, Renaissance, Namdeb and Napotel
"We had a number of meetings with Namaf until the tariff codes were approved and gazetted by the Namibian government. It took us nearly three years to complete this work," he said, adding that his team also extensively engaged HPCNA the regulating body for all health practitioners. The approval of tariff codes has made Namibia one of a few African countries with a standard medical coding structure linking private acupuncturists to claim from local medical insurances.
Dr Wang, a private acupuncturist whose medical practice is located near the private oncology hospital in Windhoek, has a growing clientele base seeking alternative medicine and he shared some before and after photos of illnesses he has treated at his Windhoek practice. After patient consultation the acupuncturist with a sunny disposition ushers patients into spotless medical cubicles where they are made to rest on beds and after several questions he proceeds to puncture and insert hair-thin needles into specific parts of their bodies in need of cure.
"I specialize in treating cervical spondylosis, in particular shoulder or joints arthritis, lumbar disc herniation and shingles. However, patients with various diseases visit my clinic at No. 7, Heliodoor Street in Eros for consultancy or treatment," said the youthful-looking acupuncturist.
"Actually, traditional Chinese acupuncture and Tui Na treatment methods have been known and applied all over the world. Its biggest advantages can be summarized as remarkably effective with no side effects," expounded the practitioner of the treatment in use since time immemorial.
Persistent headaches not responsive to painkillers, nagging knee-joint pain, insomnia (difficulty in sleeping), tennis elbow, facial paralysis, indigestion, herpes zoster are maladies he also treats.
"Due to the Covid-19 epidemic, I don't have many patients daily but most of them are introduced by my patients or recommended by local doctors. This is an attestation that curative effect and a good reputation are the best affirmation and compliment," says Dr Wang.
When he was asked on any peer-reviewed medical articles on acupuncture, Dr Wang responded: "There are many studies on acupuncture and related Chinese traditional treatment methods in the world. Readers who are interested in acupuncture can refer to the following articles: acupuncture in medicine; alternative and supplementary medicine and American journal of Chinese medicine."
A 42-year-old male patient from Ondangwa who requested not to be named on grounds of medical privacy and confidentiality had endured excruciating gout pain for seven months. "I have been on gout treatments and medication for the past seven months but nothing could help - only Dr Wang's acupuncture treatments solved my gout problem. I attended five days of acupuncture sessions and that solved all my pains. I would recommend every gout patient to such treatment."
A 50-year-old resident of Windhoek (who also asked not be named on privacy grounds) who had been having recurrent severe headaches, debilitating upper back pain and chest pains for five years of hell, was referred to Dr Wang by a general practitioner (GP).
"Ever since I walked into the practice it has been a professional and welcoming experience," narrated the patient in refence to Dr Wang's reassuring bedside manners and sunny disposition.
"Dr Wang recommended five sessions and his treatment made a difference right from the word go. After the first session I found that I could breathe easier and the constant tension in the chest muscles started to relax. With every visit I improved and gained mobility," said the patient.
"The combination of cupping (Chinese therapy using heated glass cups) and Tui Na works wonders. I have attended six sessions and have no longer a daily need for pain medication and have regained mobility," said the patient.
Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, previously quoted several patients who underwent acupuncture, among them a Windhoek university lecturer who was treated for severe back pains, and his health condition took a huge positive turn for the better. While another Windhoek resident who hurt his sciatic nerve while exercising eventually got healed when he also went for acupuncture. Some of the peer-reviewed medical journals have been published in America since that country's former president Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, which awakened the U.S. to the vast body of Chinese healing and knowledge in this medical field that is gaining global appeal.