In Fiji, both the traditional medicine of the indigenous population and that of Indo-Fijians who brought with them their own medicinal plants and medicinal plant knowledge are practised. Rural Fijians are the primary users of traditional medicine, though its popularity in urban areas is increasing. Traditional medicine practitioners are often consulted before allopathic medical providers. Many allopathic providers also practice traditional medicine (231).
Founded in 1993, the Women's Association for Natural Medicinal Therapy, a non-governmental organization promoting traditional medicine, has begun a survey of over 2000 practising providers of traditional medicine in 13 of the 14 provinces in Fiji. In two of these provinces, the surveys have been completed. These surveys and conversations with local people indicate great faith in allopathic medicine even though villagers may find traditional medicine to be more effective and cost efficient. The surveys further suggest that many people, including practitioners of allopathic medicine, use traditional medicine but hesitate to call it such because traditional medicine is associated with witchcraft.
Between 60% and 80% of the population use traditional medicine (231). According to Fiji's Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, the average Fijian household uses US$ 200 worth of medicinal plants annually. If these traditional medicines were replaced by allopathic medicines, this would amount to a total of US$ 75 million annually.
The Medical and Dental Practitioners Act of 1971 (232) empowers the Minister of Health to issue regulations governing chiropractic, acupuncture, and chiropody. Such regulations were issued in 1976 (233).
In 2000, the Cabinet of the Government of Fiji instructed the Minister of Health to develop a national policy on traditional medicine (231).
In Fiji, the lawful practice of acupuncture is subject to registration by the Permanent Secretary for Health (233). Applicants for registration must prove either that they are licensed as acupuncturists in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, or any of the states of the United States or that they possess a certificate from the health authorities of China, the Province of Taiwan, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China, Singapore, or the Philippines to the effect that they have practised acupuncture in any of those locations for a period of not less than three years.
Education and training
Most students of traditional medicine receive their training through oral instruction from established practitioners (231). No great importance is attached to formal education in either traditional medicine or complementary/alternative medicine at universities or medical schools, although some training is done through primary health care.
The Government and medical associations review the qualifications of practitioners, but there is no regulatory measure for recognizing the qualifications. Licensing legislation regulates educational standards for chiropractic (81).
Practised outside of the national health care system, traditional medicine is not covered by insurance.