Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM): Development in Malaysia

The World Health Organisation acknowledges that there is significant and increasing demand for Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) practices and practitioners worldwide.

The Ministry of Health Malaysia hasalways been aware of the importance of TCM in Malaysia from the health care, economic and socio-cultural perspectives. The Ministry advocates TCM as a complement to modern medicine and strives to not only make safe and quality TCM services accessibleto the public, but by integrating them into the national health care system with the aim of achieving holistic health care for all Malaysians.

Registration of TCM pharmaceutical products by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency commenced in 1992, and in 2004, the Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) Division of the Ministry was set up to look into the regulation of TCM practices and practitioners.

The Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) Act 2016 (Act 775) which governs TCM practice and practitioners in Malaysia, was gazetted on 10 March 2016 and enforced on 1 August 2016. Malaysia is one of the very few countries to regulate diverse practices and practitioners of TCM. The enforcement of the Act will be conducted in phases.

 The Ministry has embarked on Phase 1 of the Act enforcement whereby the TCM Council has been formed and is currently making the necessary preparations for the enforcement of Phase 2 which will include registration of TCM 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 TCM practice areas and six designated practitioner bodies to represent these practice areas in the 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 TCM, especially in the countries of origin of recognised practice areas such as Chinese medicine, Indian medicine and chiropractic.

The Ministry supports endeavours by local researchers from the public and private sectors to undertake further research into TCM practices and products. 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 practice TCM.

Section 29 of Act 775 stipulates that any title or abbreviation used by a registered TCM practitioner should not cause the public to believe that the practitioner is qualified to practice medicine or surgery or dentistry as provided for by the legislation governing those professions. The TCM Council shall specify a list of prohibited titles and abbreviations which will be published once the relevant Section of Act 775 is enforced. Punitive action can be taken on any practitioner who registers with the TCM Council and is found to have used any prohibited title or abbreviation. /theSTAR 11-01-2019

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