More government oversight of alternative healers sought
MANILA, Philippines — With just 1 percent of the country’s nearly 100,000 traditional and alternative healthcare practitioners registered, officials of an agency under the Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday stressed the need to regulate the industry for the public’s protection.
Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC) Research and Development chief Dr. Rodrigo Ong said in a press briefing on Wednesday that preliminary reports of ongoing nationwide profiling had so far identified nearly 100,000 traditional and alternative healthcare practitioners, including “manghihilot,” “albularyo,” acupuncturists and chiropractors.
But of the total, a little over 1 percent, or more than 1,400, were registered with PITAHC.
They consisted of 1,039 acupuncturists, 245 naturopathy practitioners, 75 chiropractors, 30 Chinese medicine practitioners, two osteopathy practitioners, 23 “manghihilot” and four massage practitioners.
“The increasing number of traditional and complementary medicine practitioners needs regulation to ensure that the general public who are the consumers are safe and the services provided are effective,” PITAHC legal officer Carmencita Santos said.
“In the absence of standard prices like with Western medicines, the prices for their services could skyrocket,” she added.
PITAHC Director General Dr. Annabelle de Guzman said that most stakeholders the agency had consulted were amenable to regulation “because it will require other practitioners to register [and] we will be protecting the public from unscrupulous practitioners.”
“We find so many (alternative health-care services) in malls offering cheaper prices, claiming to be Filipino-oriented” although they were not certified by PITAHC, she said.
According to Santos, the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act of 1997 or Republic Act No. 8423 should be amended to give the agency the authority to regulate traditional and alternative healthcare practitioners.
The law currently provides only for the development of standards, guidelines, and research for the practice of recognized traditional and alternative medicine. It does not require practitioners to seek certification or accreditation from PITAHC.
“So we are pushing for the amendment of the law to make sure that the general public is receiving quality service from our practitioners,” Santos said.