Acupuncture is an important element of traditional Chinese medicine. It began to be used more than 2500 years ago, and its theory was already well developed at a very early time, as is shown in many of the Chinese classics. It was introduced to neighbouring countries in Asia in the 6th Century, being readily accepted, and by the early 16th Century it had reached Europe. Over the past two decades acupuncture has spread worldwide, which has encouraged the further development of this therapy, particularly through studies from modern medical perspectives and research methodologies.
Many elements of traditional medicine are beneficial, and WHO encourages and supports countries to identify safe and effective remedies and practices for use in public and private health services. It has paid particular attention to supporting research in and the proper application of acupuncture and, in 1991, the Forty-fourth World Health Assembly urged Member States to introduce measures for its regulation and control (Resolution WHA44.34).
With the increasing use of acupuncture, the need for a common language to facilitate communication in teaching, research, clinical practice and exchange of information had become pressing and, in 1989, WHO convened a Scientific Group which approved a Standard International Acupuncture Nomenclature which is being widely disseminated and applied.
The Scientific Group also recommended that the Organization develop a series of statements and guidelines on acupuncture relating to basic training, safety in clinical practice, indications and contraindications, and clinical research. Guidelines for clinical research on acupuncture were issued by the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific in 1995.
The present document consists of guidelines on basic training and safety in acupuncture. More than 50 international experts shared their knowledge and experience in their preparation.