Chinese physician Jiang Yawen, 38, heading a team of five fellow doctors, has been on duty in Malta since last October.

The 16th Chinese Medical Team for Malta offers traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treatment for patients in the Mediterranean Regional Centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine (MRCTCM), which the Chinese and Maltese governments established jointly in 1994 in the city of Paola.

The team landed in Malta at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its members have since been treating around 500 person-times a month on average. The locals who turn to the center for help are not coronavirus patients, but the team’s contribution to the island’s healthcare services has been valuable as it helped reduce the strain on Malta’s overwhelmed COVID-19 wards.

So far, around 100 Chinese physicians from the 16 medical teams have been offering TCM treatment to those in need. According to the MRCTCM, a grand total of 200,000 person-times have received help at the center.

Responding to growing demand, the center opened in 2008 a TCM department at Mater Dei Hospital, a state-owned acute general teaching hospital in Malta.

That was the first time for TCM to be granted an independent department in a state hospital in the European Union (EU).

“Traditional Chinese medicine is quite popular among Maltese people, especially acupuncture manipulation and pain relieving medicinal plasters,” Jiang said.

The members of the Chinese medical team also use social media to share their knowledge of TCM in simple and easy-to-understand posts.

Galina Abalmasova, 62, had been suffering from a cervical herniated disc for years before she decided to try TCM.

“I read a lot about Chinese medicine, especially acupuncture,” she told Xinhua. “I have had this problem with my neck. I decided to give TCM a try and I hope it will help.”

Kristeine Tanti, 69, has visited the center eight times already. She said she heeded her sister’s recommendation. “I feel much better after my accupuncture treamtent,” she said, adding that it was she who insisted on repeating the treatment.

The Chinese team currently on duty in Malta specializes in treating acute pain and chronic diseases, such as arthritis and depression. Besides the MRCTCM in Paola, they also see patients in Mater Dei Hospital and Gozo General Hospital in Victoria.

“Our patients say they are satisfied with the treatment we offer, especially for acute pain. They always praise our efficiency and feel warm-hearted when we help them cushion and heal their pain as quickly as possible,” she said.

Once the pandemic is over, Jiang expects to continue her work in Malta and to add face-to-face lectures on TCM to her daily routine.

“We can help a lot of patients,” commented Romina Fenech Massa, who has been working as the center’s acting assistant administrator for about four years now.

“In Malta, we have a lot of arthritis sufferers. We here can help them,” she told Xinhua, adding that the center is also attracting new patients through word of mouth.

“I wish to see the service that we offer be adopted by other countries in Europe,” she said. “Malta could remain the TCM hub, and centers similar to ours could be established in Italy or Germany, where the need is equally there for efficient TCM treatment.”