New Chinese medicine research centre examines the best of both worlds

Date: 03/12/2002

The University of Western Sydney and South Western Sydney Area Health Service have joined together to establish Australia's first Chinese Medicine Clinical Research Centre.

Located at Liverpool Hospital, the Centre was officially opened on Monday 2 December by the NSW Minister for Health, Craig Knowles MP.

Using the expertise of the University's Centre for Complementary Medicine Research and the Hospital, the Centre will conduct research into traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and will carry out clinical trials on the effectiveness of Chinese herbs and acupuncture on patients suffering illness.

"The Centre is the first of its kind to be attached to a major teaching hospital and promote an integrated Chinese-Western healthcare model for research and treatment," said the head of the University's Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Associate Professor Alan Bensoussan.

"The initiative reflects the need for better practice and education when it comes to traditional Chinese medicine. Complementary medicine is now a $2.3 billion-dollar business. TCM is the largest form of complementary therapy used in Australia and the most rapidly growing.

"There are more than 3 million TCM consultations each year in Australia, and given the growing use of Chinese herbal medicines and acupuncture among the community it is important that we carry out much-needed research into the benefits and risks of such practices."

The Health Minister welcomed the introduction of the Centre, and said it will be a vital resource for the healthcare industry.

"The launch of the Chinese Medicine Clinical Research Centre is a timely and important collaboration between an area health service that serves a large Asian population and a university that has expertise and an international reputation in the field," said Mr Knowles.

"This Centre will take an evidence-based approach to the practice of traditional Chinese medicine and will play a leading role in developing practice guidelines and protocols to ensure it is used safely.

"It is also set to become a major educational resource for doctors, clinicians and other healthcare workers so they can learn more about the use of traditional Chinese medicine and its potential integration with conventional Western medical practice."

According to the director of women and children's health at Liverpool Hospital, Professor Felix Wong, women will be the first group to benefit from the Centre's research.

"The first clinical trials scheduled at the Centre are set to focus on women's health problems such as pre-menstrual syndrome, dysmenorrhoea and other gynaecological conditions," he said.

"Women's health is an area that has had a significant uptake of complementary medicine. Up until recent times, pharmaceutical drugs and surgery have been the most common therapeutic tools for treating women's health, but aren't always the most popular first line of therapy.

"It may be a gentler, less invasive form of treatment, and may also be a more cost-effective alternative to surgery.

"Our trials will investigate these alternative methods of treatment and test their effectiveness," Professor Wong said.

Coinciding with the launch of the Centre, SWSAHS and UWS are hosting a conference, 'The Integration of Chinese and Western Medicine: A Focus on Women's Health', 1-2 December 2002 at Thomas and Rachel Moore Education Centre, Liverpool Hospital.

For more information or requests for interviews:

David Graham
Public Relations Manager
South Western Sydney Area Health Service
Phone: (02) 9828 6888
Mobile: 0417 697 079

Amanda Whibley
Senior Media Officer
University of Western Sydney
Phone: (02) 9678 7472
Mobile: 0418 438 399