MANILA, Philippines?A relaxing visit to a spa or wellness center could turn into a disaster if you entrust yourself to an untrained massage therapist, warned health officials.
In a bid to promote massage therapy as a viable career in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) is giving all spa establishments and massage clinics across the country three years, or until December 2014, to weed out amateur masseurs and masseuses by hiring only certified massage therapists.
Health Secretary Enrique Ona said spa and massage centers have mushroomed particularly in the capital due to the highly stressful conditions of modern living.
But a massage session can be dangerous if carried out by inexpert hands, he warned.
"Do you know that the dangerous part to be massaged, especially for those aged 55 and above, is the neck?" noted Ona.
He said trained massage therapists would not massage the neck or carotid area, which contains the major blood vessel leading to the heart. A massage that goes wrong in that area, Ona said, could lead to a stroke.
Dr. Kenneth Ronquillo, director of the DOH Health Human Resource Development Bureau, said after three years, the health agency would see to it that all massage centers in the country would have licensed massage therapists.
By 2015, the DOH would no longer allow any person to practice massage as a profession in the country without a valid certificate of registration issued by the Committee of Examiners for Massage Therapy, approved by the Secretary of Health, said Ronquillo.
"There is also a clamor by the industry of having these massage therapists professionalized because of exploitation," he said.
He added that a licensure examination was being administered to all candidates every June and December.
Among the pertinent requirements for the exam is a certificate of training indicating that she or he has taken a practical massage for at least 60 hours and has received basic instructions based on the curriculum of any DOH-accredited training provider.
The curriculum for massage therapy includes anatomy, physiology, general pathology, microbiology, introduction to massage therapy, massage therapy application and practice of massage therapy, enumerated Ronquillo.