Place for traditional medicine
THE Health Ministry takes note of the concerns expressed by Concerned Medical Practitioner from Kuala Lumpur in the letter “Traditional, not scientific” (The Star, Jan 10).
The World Health Organization acknowledges that there is significant and increasing demand for traditional and complementary medicine (T&CM) practices and practitioners worldwide. The Health Ministry of Malaysia has always been aware of the importance of T&CM in this country from the healthcare, economic and socio-cultural perspectives. The ministry advocates T&CM as a complement to modern medicine and strives to not only make safe and quality T&CM services accessible to the public but is also integrating them into the national healthcare system with the aim of achieving holistic healthcare for all Malaysians. Registration of T&CM pharmaceutical products by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency commenced in 1992, and in 2004 the Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) Division of the ministry was set up to look into the regulation of T&CM practices and practitioners.
The Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) Act 2016 (Act 775), which governs T&CM practice and practitioners in Malaysia, was gazetted on March 10, 2016 and enforced on Aug 1 of the same year.
Malaysia is one of the very few countries to regulate diverse practices and practitioners of T&CM. The enforcement of the Act will be conducted in phases. At present, the ministry has embarked on Phase 1 of the Act’s enforcement whereby the T&CM Council has been formed and is currently making the necessary preparations for the enforcement of Phase 2, which will include registration of T&CM practitioners as well as disciplinary proceedings. The final phase will entail full enforcement of the Act including the sections pertaining to enforcement-related activities. There are also at present seven recognised T&CM practice areas and six designated practitioner bodies to represent these practice areas in the T&CM Council.
The ministry is keen for the practice of medicine and health-related professions in this country to be evidence-based. The ministry takes note that there has been research conducted in the field of T&CM, especially in the countries of origin of recognised practice areas such as Chinese medicine, Indian medicine and chiropractic, to name a few. The ministry supports endeavours by local researchers from the public and private sectors to undertake further research into T&CM practices and products.
While the ministry strives to regulate a long unregulated field, it is also aware that there are irresponsible individuals who make unsubstantiated claims regarding the provision of T&CM services or who are not qualified to provide them in the first place.
Section 3 of the Medicines (Advertisement & Sale) Act 1956 is very clear on the prohibition of advertisements relating to certain diseases, and the relevant Schedule lists 20 of those diseases. This also applies to those who practise T&CM.
Members of the public who are aware of, or who suspect that fraudulent T&CM services are being offered, can do the public a great service by providing the ministry with relevant details so that we may carry out the necessary investigations. Please contact the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Division at 03-2698 5077/ 2279 8100 or via email at: [email protected] moh.gov.my
Section 29 of Act 775 stipulates that any title or abbreviation used by a registered T&CM practitioner should not cause the public to believe that the practitioner is qualified to practise medicine or surgery or dentistry as provided for by the legislation governing those professions. The T&CM Council shall specify a list of prohibited titles and abbreviations which will be published once the relevant Section of Act 775 is enforced. Hence, action can be taken on any practitioner who registers with the T&CM Council and is found to have used any prohibited title or abbreviation.
The ministry welcomes constructive feedback from members of the public on matters related to T&CM. Feedback can be sent to the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Division at 03-2698 5077/ 2279 8100 or via email to: [email protected] moh.gov.my.
Information about the latest developments of the enforcement of Act 775 may also be accessed at http://tcm.moh.gov.my DATUK DR NOOR HISHAM ABDULLAH Director-general of Health Malaysia