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AF, China's PLA physicians gather for first-ever acupuncture exchange

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Matthew McGovern
  • Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs
At the invitation of China's People Liberation Army, Air Force medical physicians, along-side their Chinese military and civilian counterparts, conducted the first-ever Medical Acupuncture and Battlefield Medicine Subject Matter Expert Exchange in Beijing, China, on Oct. 21-27.

The exchange, attended by seven U.S. representatives from the Air Force Medical Service, civilians from the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, and more than 30 PLA members, was an effort to help U.S.-China militaries increase mutual trust and understanding while sharing practices in traditional Chinese medicine.

"The sessions were friendly, informative and far-reaching in their scope," said Lt. Col. Gregory Sweitzer, Pacific Air Forces clinical quality and innovation chief from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. "The enthusiasm and camaraderie that emerged from this exchange was clearly palpable and led to a series of discussions that extended outside the conference rooms and into the break room where genuinely enthusiastic inter-personal exchanges took place."

The exchange was held at three separate locations: a military hospital, university of medicine and a traditional Chinese medicine clinic. The different venues allowed the group to explore each other's acupuncture techniques, operational medicine issues, and acupuncture research. The group also focused on ways acupuncture remedies hypertension, diabetes, obesity, stroke, chronic pain, as well as gynecological complaints.

At the military hospital, where the Americans were greeted with prominently displayed U.S. and China banners and multiple cameramen, discussions included acupuncture treatment of battlefield injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and treatment of pain associated with amputations.

"We were treated very graciously (by our Chinese counterparts) and our hope is that we can have future exchanges in acupuncture and other medical exchanges with the PLA and civilian counterparts to learn more from them and them from us," said Sweitzer.

The Chinese physicians formed a similar opinion regarding the exchanges.

"The exchange (facilitated) Sino-U.S. friendship, enhanced relations, and I hope communications," said Col. Lou Yongchang, PLA air force aviation medicine branch director.

Sweitzer remained optimistic about further relations with the Chinese experts.

"We believe this visit truly enhanced U.S.-China military-medical relations, particularly with regard to the provision and utilization of acupuncture in our respected militaries. In fact, our group has already identified some prospective topics and workshops that could provide the framework for a second U.S.-China exchange," said Sweitzer.

Pacific Air Forces conduct subject matter exchanges throughout the pacific to collaborate with other professionals and assist with communications across various military disciplines. Dialogue and exchanges are designed to promote stable military-to-military relationships by reducing misunderstanding, misperception, and miscalculation through increased communication and interaction.