Taipei, April 16 (CNA) The Department of Health has reconsidered its ban on practitioners of traditional Chinese massage working at medical institutions and will introduce several rules governing the therapy instead, top health officials said Monday.
Speaking at a legislative hearing, Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta said that only massage performed by doctors is legally considered a medical treatment, which can be covered by the national health insurance program, while that performed by traditional massage practitioners is not.
He added that the department will enhance supervision of practitioners of traditional Chinese massage and make sure the new principles are followed.
Vice Health Minister Lai Chin-hsiang said it was decided in a meeting last week that these practitioners working within hospitals and Chinese medicine clinics can continue offering their services -- which is legally non-medical -- after May 1, when the ban on such practices was due to take effect, as long as they follow 10 principles.
According to Lai, the principles governing traditional Chinese massage services provided by non-medical personnel stipulate that it not be classified as a medical treatment, no drugs be sold or administered and that no improper methods be used to solicit patients.
The principles also forbid medical advertisements, reimbursement of fees and claims of medical benefits, Lai said, adding that different identification cards and outfits for doctors and non-medical practitioners will be provided, as well as separate entrances and areas in a facility.
Asked if a licensing system will be introduced for the practice of traditional Chinese massage, Lai said it is a long-term goal and requires more discussions with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Examination.
Meanwhile, Huang Lin-huang, chairman of the Committee on Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy under the department, said the hope is that non-medical practitioners will conduct independent operations within their own areas in a clinic, but further details will be discussed during a meeting next week with civic groups, the Consumers' Foundation and the government's consumer protection agency.
(By Lung Jui-yun and Kay Liu)