A NEW council under the Health Ministry, which is similar to the one governing doctors, will ensure that there is no misconduct and the procedures are safe and carried out ethically. The New Sunday Times speaks to several industry players to get their thoughts on the issue.
Malay Traditional Medicine Association (Gapera)
Its president, Mohd Adzhar Latif, said the setting up of the Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) Council proved that traditional treatments are recognised by the government.
Commending the move, he said this would protect the sector from those who have total disregard for the law.
“When T&CM practitioners are governed by the council, they cannot do as they please as there are legal repercussions. If doctors have the Malaysian Medical Council, we also have our own council... this is what we want.
“The laws and training involved will also serve to improve public confidence and trust in T&CM.”
Adzhar said Malaysia should strive to become the pioneer in traditional Malay medicine.
“If we talk about Indian traditional medicine practices, we will look at India as a model, the same case with China for Chinese practices. Therefore, traditional Malay medicine can be developed as a unique industry.
“One example is the Malay post-natal care, which is proven to have special qualities that help with healing,” he said, adding that the industry may also be promoted under the government’s health tourism campaign.
Adzhar said Gapera, however, hoped that the ministry would reconsider the method used to measure the effectiveness of Malay T&CM treatments, saying “not all practices could be proven scientifically”.
He also proposed the setting up of a “T&CM research and development centre”, which he said could improve the sector.
Malaysian Homeopathic Medical Council
Council president Zainul Azmi Ahmad said the ministry’s move to compel T&CM practitioners to register its equipment and the medication prescribed would serve well in ensuring the safety of those seeking treatment.
“But not all medication should be registered because in homeopathy, we prepare our concoctions based on specific needs of the patient. So, for these kinds of medicine, we shouldn’t have to register.
“However, if we produce medicine for mass distribution, then we have to register and make sure that the products are manufactured by those endorsed with good manufacturing practices,” he said.
The need for registration, he said, would prevent unscrupulous practitioners from buying and repacking counterfeit medicine.
“Some practitioners buy ‘medicines’ from Thailand, for example, to repack and resell them here. Painkillers are one of them.
“These traders are also causing problems because they ply their trade online, selling unregistered homeopathy medicine under fake profiles,” he said.
Persatuan Kebajikan dan Pengubatan Islam (Darussyifa’)
Secretary Abdul Rahman Nawas said the T&CM Act 2016 and the establishment of its council were long overdue, considering the rapid growth of the industry.
He said the T&CM Council would also help to rein in crooked practitioners, who prey on those in desperate need of treatment.
“In Islamic practices, there are different types of treatment out there, and there may be doubts about them. And there will always be practitioners who take advantage by charging their patients exorbitantly.
“There will be a member from Jakim (Islamic Development Department), who will sit in the council to assist in matters relating to Islamic practices.”
Rahman said the traditional Islamic practitioners, too, were facing difficulties in carrying out research and development to improve their products and services.
“For instance, the remedies that we use in our traditional healing are those that have been passed down for generations.
“There are certain remedies that we use to cure certain illnesses, but there has never been any scientific research on them yet. We are, however, collaborating with several professors from local universities to help us with that,” he added.
Malaysian Association of Traditional Indian Medicine (Peptim)
Association president Raggupathi V.R. Somasundaram Pillai said the need for T&CM practitioners to register their devices was timely to ensure that only those who are qualified can handle them.
“This has been discussed with the relevant agencies and they have made it clear that the use of devices must be regulated. This (registration) is part of the regulating system and is good for the public,” he said.
Federation of Chinese Physicians & Acupuncturists Association of Malaysia (FCPAAM)
President Ng Po Kok said the implementation of the T&CM 2016 Act would ensure that only practitioners with legitimate qualifications remain in the market.
“After this, all Chinese physicians and acupuncturists in the country should have a degree recognised by the government.
“Those who practise cupping and tuinalogy must first obtain the Malaysian Skills Certificate.
“This means that those with no qualifications or skills acquired from their forefathers are forbidden from practising,” he said, adding that the law would serve well in standardising the quality of T&CM practitioners.
Ng, however, raised a few issues that he felt the council needed to address.
“The herbs and medication that we use in the industry are countless.
“So, the body representing us will have to do something to provide scientific evidence on their usage.”
He suggested that the government set up a T&CM hospital which, he said, could be a place for T&CM course graduates to undergo “housemanship”.
“The law says that if you graduate from any university, you need to have at least a year-long housemanship.
“A T&CM hospital can also be a place for graduating students to improve their practising skills and knowledge,” he said.