KUALA LUMPUR: Two reports have been submitted to the Health Ministry on regulating traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) premises.

The ministry’s TCM division director, Dr Goh Cheng Soon, said the division recently finalised the guidelines for TCM premises and two reports had been submitted to the ministry’s top brass for the green light.

Such a move was necessary as the Private Healthcare Facilities Services Act prohibits the practice of modern medicine and TCM under the same roof.

“We hope to have regulations for the premises. We have prepared our regulatory impact analysis and regulatory impact statement.

“We need to get top management’s approval before we have a public engagement,” she said during a seminar on “Integrating Traditional and Complementary Wisdom into Modern Practice” here on Saturday.

Dr Goh, who delivered her keynote address titled “TCM Meets Conventional Medicine: Is Integration the Best Healthcare Choice for Patients?”, said that regulation for TCM premises was the way forward.

Organised by the Malaysian Medical Association’s (MMA) committee on integrative medicine led by Dr Anil Kumar Kukreja, the annual seminar was attended by doctors and TCM practitioners.

Dr Goh pointed out that the ministry recognised seven types of TCM, comprising Malay, Chinese and Indian traditional treatments; along with homoeopathy, chiropractic, osteopathy and Islamic medicine.

“Selected TCM services are provided in public hospitals, integrated with modern medicine and offered in the outpatient settings.

“It is limited to specific TCM therapies and indications, according to the ministry’s guidelines,” she said, adding that such services required a referral from a medical doctor.

She said TCM treatments such as traditional massages, acupuncture, herbal therapy, shirodhara, external basti therapy and varmam therapy were offered at 15 hospitals nationwide to patients experiencing discomforts such as chronic pain, post-stroke conditions, radiotherapy and chemotherapy side effects, depression, insomnia, anxiety, stress and pain, and stiffness in the lower back, knee or neck.

“So far, 99.5% of patients have been satisfied with the TCM treatments they get at government healthcare facilities,” she said.

Reiterating the need to focus on patient-centred care, Dr Goh called for the integration of TCM into the National Healthcare System to ensure quality healthcare services for the people.

“Integration allows equity and accessibility of public healthcare, transparency and monitoring, and evaluation of the practice.

“It fills the gap in healthcare and builds a culturally-sensitive healthcare system that is sustainable and resilient.

“All these are important in our white paper,” she said, referring to a proposal by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to reform the healthcare system, especially in ensuring that it is future-proof.

He said on Aug 15 that it was expected to be tabled in Parliament in November.

MMA president Dr Koh Kar Chai said that TCM played a role in the management of care of the population.

To achieve holistic healthcare, he said changes should be made at the ministry level to allow medical doctors with formal training in their chosen TCM modalities to incorporate their skills into their practice.

“The term ‘integrative medicine’ should be registered as one of the recognised TCM modalities and allow medical doctors to incorporate chosen TCM modalities into their clinical practice.

“The nature of modalities labelled as components in integrative medicine could then be assessed by the association’s integrative medicine committee before submission to the ministry’s TCM division and TCM council for endorsement,” he said.

He also suggested that clinical attachment be undertaken with the teaching institutions to certify a practitioner before one could register with the ministry to practise TCM.

Despite some dissenting opinions about TCM in modern healthcare, Dr Koh said total reform of the healthcare system was the way forward for Malaysia.

“There’s a place for everyone in healthcare services. The healthcare system has to be reformed.

“It’s not only about TCM but everything has to be looked at … from how we recruit and train medical students all the way down to how we offer services to the general public,” he added.