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Practising acupuncture in the developing world
  1. Sarah Watkins, medical acupuncturist
  1. Leighton Buzzard, UK
  1. sallywatkins50{at}


Historically a GP, Dr Sarah Watkins took up acupuncture relatively late in her career, but has taken it a long way since then. In this article she presents a vivid picture of what it is like to introduce acupuncture to remote rural populations in parts of the developing world. She describes the rapidly growing demand of the local populations following just word-of-mouth spread that a new treatment was available; the different needle length requirements of the impoverished locals compared with the average well-fed westerner; and the simple, safe and effective treatment regimes that she developed and introduced to the local trained nurses, in order to cope with the numbers of patients and to provide continuity of care after her departure. Sarah also comments on the emerging pattern of response that she has observed amongst her patients, and enters into a brief discussion of why this might be so. Early influences on her technique include Felix Mann, Chan Gunn, and a period of study at the Nanjing College of TCM in China. Whilst in the United Kingdom Sarah divides her time between private practice and working as a police surgeon, but is planning return trips to both Bangladesh and Ethiopia, plus fresh pastures in Vietnam and Kerala in south west India.

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