Malaysia’s Ministry of Health Introduces the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Act

In May 2004, Malaysia’s Ministry of Health announced the drafting of the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Act. This Act will provide guidelines to better regulate traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) practices in Malaysia by integrating them into the country’s National Healthcare System.

The use of traditional and complementary medicine is widespread among developing nations and is gaining popularity among developed countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 66% of the population in developing countries uses TCM on a regular basis, and about 50% of the global population in developed countries.

In accordance with the TCM Act, all TCM practitioners will be required to register with the Ministry of Health. Currently, 3,000 TCM practitioners have already voluntarily registered, even though the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Act will not go into effect until 2006.

Once the TCM Act is implemented, registration with Malaysia’s Ministry of Health will become mandatory for all TCM practitioners. However, registration alone will not guarantee automatic approval or endorsement by the Ministry of Health. The practitioner will still be required to meet certain standards and many aspects of the practitioner’s operation will be monitored, such as the products used to treat patients, quality of the products, methods of treatment, safety, and scientific evidence showing effectiveness of these TCM’s. A standing committee made up of representatives from the Ministry of Health, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), and various practitioner’s groups and universities in Malaysia, is working to create a module which will cover the issues of TCM education, consultation and monitoring.