Singapore's health services are based on allopathic medicine. However, it is common practice among the various ethnic groups to consult traditional practitioners for general ailments. Chinese, Indian, and Malay traditional therapies all have a part in complementary/alternative health care in Singapore.
About 45% of the population have consulted traditional medicine providers. Traditional Chinese medicine is the most prominent traditional therapy, both in terms of the number of its practitioners and patients and in its far-reaching appeal (213). A list published by the local traditional Chinese medicine community in 1997 reported 1807 practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine in Singapore, most of whom were more than 40 years old. Half of them practised traditional Chinese medicine on a full-time basis, one-third practised part-time, and the remainder were not practising at the time of the listing (267). Approximately 10 chiropractors practise in Singapore (45).
Traditional Chinese medical practice is restricted to outpatient services in Singapore. About 10 000 persons visit traditional Chinese medicine clinics each day, compared to 74 000 persons who visit allopathic clinics.
The health authorities recognize the importance of traditional medicine in the provision of health care and have initiated efforts to promote and ensure the safe practice of traditional medicine. A traditional medicine unit was set up in the Ministry of Health in November 1995 (268).
Act 34, the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Act of 2000, was passed by Parliament on 14 November 2000 and assented to by the President on 2 December 2000. The Act provides for the establishment of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner Board to approve or reject applications for registration and to accredit courses in the practice of traditional Chinese medicine, among other things. This accreditation is intended to facilitate registration. The Register of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners shall be kept by the Registrar appointed by the Board. A registered practitioner who desires to obtain a certificate to practice must make an application to the Board. Unlawful engagement in prescribed practices of traditional Chinese medicine is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both.
Under the power conferred by the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Act of 2000, the Minister for Health issued the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners (Registration of Acupuncturists) Regulations of 2001, which came into effect 23 February 2001. The Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board, with the approval of the Minister for Health, issued the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners (Register and Practising Certificates) Regulations of 2001, which came into effect on 18 April 2001.
There is no chiropractic law.
Education and training
Schools of traditional Chinese medicine have made valuable contributions to the training of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners in the past. Singapore has adopted a standardized six-year part-time training programme in traditional Chinese medicine. National examinations for both acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine will soon be required for practitioners (268).