The increasing popularity in recent years of acupuncture as a form of therapy and the interest of some countries in introducing it into primary health care mean that national health authorities must ensure safety and competence in its use.
In countries with a formal system of education in traditional medicine, and where acupuncture is firmly established as a normal component of health care, training may extend over several years at college level, and suitable mechanisms for supervision of its practitioners have been created.
However, for other countries, where "modern Western medicine" forms the only basis of the national health system, the position is different and there may be no educational, professional or legislative framework to govern the practice of acupuncture.
Making use of acupuncture in modern medical care means taking it out of its traditional context and applying it as a therapeutic technique for a limited number of conditions for which it has been shown to be effective, without having to reconcile the underlying theories of modern and traditional medicine.
In this type of situation, lengthy periods of instruction in traditional medicine as a background to acupuncture are neither feasible nor necessary, and shorter training must suffice.
Furthermore, in many countries, acupuncture is not yet officially recognized and regulations and registration requirements, where they exist, vary considerably. In some, only qualified physicians may practice acupuncture, while in others, practitioners trained in traditional medicine may also do so.
It seems useful, therefore, to provide guidelines for relatively short periods of theoretical and practical training in acupuncture which, with well designed curricula and skilled instructors, would be sufficient to ensure the safety and competence of those so trained.
In recent decades, the theoretical and practical aspects of acupuncture have been developed in various countries, particularly in those where modern Western medical perspectives and research methodologies have been applied to studies of this traditional therapy. The achievements of these studies should be included in the training. However, since a new theoretical system has not yet been established, traditional Chinese medical theory is still taken as the basis of the Core Syllabus.