Published: Monday September 24, 2012 MYT 1:09:00 PM
Updated: Monday September 24, 2012 MYT 1:57:57 PM
'Proposed Traditional Medicine Act will drive some practitioners out of business'
PETALING JAYA: Traditional medicine practitioners without paper qualification will be put out of business once the proposed Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) Act is passed and enforced.
To safeguard the livelihood of these practitioners, the Malaysian Society for Complementary Medicine (MSCM) wants a clause that allows existing practioners without paper qualification to continue practising and the requirement for paper qualification be applied to newcomers.
MSCM president Dr Lee Chee Pheng said Monday there was no 'grandfather clause' in the bill allowing TCM practitioners without certificates to continue with their practice.
A grandfather clause allows an old rule to continue to apply in certain existing situations while the new rule is set apply in all future situations.
"The Health Ministry should not ignore this group of people who have learned the traditional method of treatment from their forefathers. However, they do not carry any paper qualifications.
"There are many practitioners in the traditional massage industry who are blind and are over 60. How can they possibly undergo formal anatomy and physiology classes in order to get certified?" he asked in an exclusive interview with Bernama.
Lee said that if the government felt that it was ready to enforce the law, then the act should be implemented gradually over time so as to ensure that the transition of the 'qualified' and 'non-qualified' practitioners was balanced out.
Otherwise, it would impose a problem for the practitioners who are skilled but have no paper qualification, he said.
The TCM Bill 2012, which was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on June 27, among others, requires all practitioners to be registered with the proposed TCM council.
Under the act, TCM practitioners must be provisionally registered and must undergo a residency of not less than one year with any hospital or institution identified by the council.
A council member of MSCM, Dr Lai Yoon Kgen, said he was unhappy with the requirement of the proposed act for TCM practitioners to undergo residency of not less than one year, and added that it would interrupt their daily routine as they have be attached to hospitals to acquire their practising licence.
"We hope the TCM Division of the Health Ministry will reconsider this point as many practitioners are not in favour of it," he said, adding that there were about 15,000 practitioners in the country.
Meanwhile, MSCM secretary Lee Yoke Kwan said it was difficult to prove that TCM was evidence-based as there was no proper assistance from the Health ministry with regard to documentation.
"Malay traditional medicine, for instance, is still at a preliminary level. How much evidence does it have?" she asked.
Lee urged Health Ministry officials to invite again all the relevant stakeholders to discuss the TCM Act so that it truly benefited the practitioners in the country.
"The Health Ministry should look at the TCM industry in totality by taking into account matters such as eco-health and eco-tourism and not confine (matters) to hospitals alone," she said. - Bernama
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