Why the chiropractic industry in Singapore is not regulated

SINGAPORE - Regulate us, says The Chiropractic Association's (Singapore) honorary secretary Janet Sosna. But the Ministry of Health (MOH) said self-regulation is enough.

The reason: Chiropractic is an alternative medicine.

The New Paper looks at their comments.

THE CHIROPRACTIC ASSOCIATION (SINGAPORE):

WHY IS THE INDUSTRY NOT REGULATED?

Ms Janet Sosna: It is self-regulated, meaning chiropractors volunteer to meet the association's code of ethics and standards.

There are about 100 chiropractors in Singapore, with many abiding by the highest professional standards.

The problem arises when some chiropractors opt for a marketing-based business model, hire consultants and use fear to pressure customers to sign up for packages.

We've voiced concerns about the unethical sale of excessive, clinically unsubstantiated and prepaid packages to MOH (Ministry of Health) since (the problem) first occurred in the late 1990s.

WHAT SHOULD CUSTOMERS DO THEN?

Ms Sosna: Members of the public are advised to seek their care from an association member, as this is the only guarantee of receiving care that meets international standards.

We have a strict policy for the sale of prepaid packages, with a 12-treatment limit (the number is substantiated in chiropractic-medical literature).

Complaints against members would be dealt with through a disciplinary procedure. Offenders will be warned and could be expelled from the association. (But we have) no jurisdiction over non-members.

HAS THE ASSOCIATION PUSHED FOR MORE STRINGENT REGULATION?

Ms Sosna: We've met several times with the director of medical services for traditional and complementary medicine at MOH. We've also brought in overseas experts from the United States and Australia to present education and practice standards.

(But) our pleas appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

Our profession will be regulated quickly if it is deemed to be causing harm to the public but we've been told financial harm did not count.

MINISTRY OF HEALTH:

WHY DOESN'T MOH REGULATE THE INDUSTRY?

MOH: Chiropractic is a form of complementary and alternative medicine. Hence, chiropractors are not registered medical practitioners or TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) practitioners.

Although not statutorily regulated, chiropractors are subject to laws from other regulations eg. Medicines Act, Sale of Drugs Act, Poisons Act, Business Registration Act and Companies Act.

WHAT CONDITIONS HAVE TO BE MET FOR MOH TO STEP IN TO REGULATE THE CHIROPRACTIC INDUSTRY?

MOH: Chiropractors should continue to self-regulate the profession.

The Chiropractic Association (Singapore) has developed a code of practice, ethics and advertising guidelines for the profession and encourages chiropractors to abide by these codes.

WHAT REDRESS DO UNHAPPY CUSTOMERS HAVE?

MOH: Consumers can write to the Consumers Association of Singapore (when there are disputes due to) misleading advertising and sale of treatment packages.

Patients and their caregivers are advised to exercise due diligence and consult appropriate health-care practitioners for their medical problems. When in doubt, they should consult a registered medical practitioner.

kohht@sph.com.sg


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