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Summer 2003
Where East meets West
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For Hui, the clinic demonstrates how integrative medicine can be effective on a broad scale, and he is committed to promoting the concept worldwide. Looking at health care with the same all-encompassing eye that he uses to examine patients, Hui sees a system urgently in need of a new, holistic infrastructure. In 2001, more than $1.3 trillion was spent nationally on health care; that same year, more than 41 million Americans were without health insurance. Health-care costs overwhelm families and businesses alike. And an aging boomer generation and increasingly expensive new technologies will further exacerbate the crisis.

The situation, Hui says, “is unsustainable.” Yet he sees a simple answer: Not only can integrative medicine promote the health of the individual, it can promote the health of the entire system. With its emphasis on maintaining health and enhancing the body’s natural resistance to disease, Eastern medicine offers low-tech, low-cost methods that can avoid more invasive, riskier and costlier treatments. The current crisis exists “not for lack of money, but for lack of a framework that will allow us to appropriately allocate resources to solve health care for the patient and for the health-care system,” says Hui. An integrative model “has the potential to help millions of people with safe, effective, accessible and affordable health care.”

To promote this model, the CEWM teaches medical students, interns and residents about integrative medicine through classes and clinical rotations. A clinical fellowship program grooms future integrative-medicine teachers and practitioners. In addition, the center hosts a professional conference attended by health practitioners from around the globe. (This year’s conference, in the fall, will be geared to the public.) Hui has served as a consultant to government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, international entities such as the World Health Organization, and to universities and health-insurance companies.

His goal is to build a bridge between two cultures, one ancient and one modern.

“UCLA is a world leader,” Hui says. “We are in a unique position to influence transformation of the health-care system.”

Nancy Sokoler Steiner is a freelance writer in Los Angeles.

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