Legal Status of Traditional Medicine and Complementary/Alternative Medicine: A Worldwide Review
(2001; 200 pages) View the PDF document
Table of Contents
View the documentAcknowledgements
View the documentForeword
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsAfrica
Close this folderThe Americas
View the documentArgentina
View the documentBolivia
View the documentBrazil
View the documentCanada
View the documentChile
View the documentColombia
View the documentCosta Rica
View the documentCuba
View the documentDominican Republic
View the documentEcuador
View the documentGuatemala
View the documentHonduras
View the documentJamaica
View the documentMexico
View the documentNicaragua
View the documentPanama
View the documentPeru
View the documentUnited States of America
View the documentVenezuela
Open this folder and view contentsEastern Mediterranean
Open this folder and view contentsEurope
Open this folder and view contentsSouth-East Asia
Open this folder and view contentsWestern Pacific
View the documentReferences
Open this folder and view contentsAnnex I. The European Union


Background information

The Mapuche Community Hospital (118) offers traditional and allopathic treatment options. Practising at the hospital are traditional medical providers, bonesetters, and two allopathic doctors. The hospital is affiliated with Mapuche University. Both the hospital and the university receive financial support from the Ministry of Health.


In Chile, 10% to 12% of the population is indigenous (118). Seventy-one per cent of the population uses complementary/alternative medicine (82). There are between 2000 and 10 000 traditional health practitioners in Chile. Principal traditional medical specialities are herbalism, spiritualism, traditional birth attendance, aromatherapy, bach flowers, acupuncture, bonesetting, and chiropractic (83).

Regulatory situation

National policies emphasize equal treatment for traditional and allopathic medicine (118). Homeopathy and the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia are legally recognized. The Public Health Institute recognizes homeopathic remedies (53). Traditional and complementary/alternative medicine are regulated by Ley 19.253 of October 1993, which takes into consideration their role in public health (62).

The Ministry of Health oversees the Unit of Traditional Medicine, which also governs complementary/alternative medicine, and the Unit of Indigenous Community Health. The Unit of Traditional Medicine was established in August 1992 (119). Its objectives are to set standards for the safety and efficacy of traditional medicines and to encourage the use of proven traditional medicines, including incorporating them into allopathic health programmes (83). The Unit of Indigenous Community Health develops the primary health care system at the community level (118).

The Health Ministry issues licences for the practice of traditional medicine, but very few traditional medicine practitioners are licensed. Unlicensed traditional health practitioners risk fines or the closure of their offices (83). There is no official registry of traditional medicine practitioners.

Education and training

Mapuche University (118) offers programmes in traditional knowledge leading to Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate degrees. Students of these programmes may choose to specialize in traditional medicine. The university also cultivates medicinal plants and conducts research on traditional medicine. Most students of traditional medicine learn through apprenticeships with experienced providers. In some cases, these are family members. Some practitioners receive medical insight through personal revelations.

Traditional medical training for official allopathic health personnel is not very extensive and consists of occasional informative events that may or may not be included in official training programmes (83).

The Government has recognized homeopathy as a medical system, but there are no officially recognized training programmes or examinations (86). A chiropractic college is being established (81).

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