A call for the Minister of Health to fulfill commitment to regulate Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture
Mary Xiumei Wu, doctor of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and President of the Toronto School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a member of the Government Advisory Committee on Natural Health Products, and Joanne Pritchard-Sobhani, doctor of TCM, Director of The Institute of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and Liaison Officer to the Professional College of TCM and Acupuncture Ontario are calling on current Health Minister Tony Clement to set a definitive timeline for the regulation of the traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture professions in Ontario.
With an estimated 25% of Ontarians using some form of traditional Chinese medicine including acupuncture, the professionals have been work with the ministry over the past decade for the regulation of the profession in order to protect the public and to ensure the quality of TCM services.
In a speech to the Legislature on April 24, 2001, Minister of Health and Long Term Care, Clement stated that; “the government understands the value and importance of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture to many in Ontario” and committed to “act quickly” on the regulation of the profession once he receives the report and recommendations from the Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council (HPRAC).
In May 2001, the HPRAC submitted its report to the Minister recommending that Traditional Chinese Medicine and acupuncture be regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA).
Eighteen months have passed since Minister Clement made the statement. The TCM and acupuncture professionals feel like their profession has been left in limbo and the public is not protected. “We were so excited when the recommendation was made and the statement made by the Minister and encouraged by his pledge to act quickly,” comments Dr. Wu.
Dr. Wu who is also a member of the Expert Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicine for Health Canada points out that; “there are many people practicing TCM and acupuncture in Ontario with or without sufficient training. Practitioners may take a weekend course in acupuncture and start to stick needles in patients. There is no way to check the qualifications of the practitioners and to file a complaint. The Government needs to be accountable to a standard of TCM care in order to safeguard the public. It is very important for Ontario that we act now to regulate the profession and to put statutory regulatory college in place.”
Dr. Pritchard-Sobhani who is also a key stakeholder representing the TCM and Acupuncture Sector Study with Health Canada/HRDC stressed: “the regulatory process being plagued by delays since 1996, essentially places the public at risk by denying access to the treatment by qualified practitioners. Without standards of education and practice there is virtually no accountability within the profession.”
To date, with no definitive timeline for regulation established, Doctors Wu and Pritchard-Sobhani are urging Minister Clement to intervene now to expedite regulation in the interest of public safety, before there is a tragedy.
Dr. Mary Xiumei Wu
Toronto School of Traditional Chinese Medicine
2010 Eglinton Ave, West, Suite 302
Toronto, ON M6E 2K3
Dr. Joanne Pritchard-Sobhani
Institute of Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine
574 Stewart Blvd.,
Brockville, ON K6V 7H2
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