The Hungarian Homeopathic Medical Association has 340 members (172). There are three practising chiropractors in Hungary (65).
Although allopathic physicians are the most common providers of complementary/alternative medicine, non-allopathic physicians and non-allopathic practitioners may provide specific complementary/alternative treatments. In February 1997, the Hungarian legislature passed two pieces of comprehensive legislation on natural medicine: Government Decree 40/1997 (IV 5) Korm. r. on natural medicine and the Decree of the Minister of Welfare 11/1997 (V 28) on some aspects of the practice of natural medicine (172). These two decrees clearly and officially integrate allopathic and non-allopathic physicians who practise complementary/alternative medicine into the national health care system. The Decrees came into force on 1 July 1997.
The Decrees outline precise rules regarding the curriculum of complementary/alternative medical training as well as its practice. Each complementary/alternative discipline has its own training requirements and State exam. Within a legal framework, non-allopathic physicians are allowed to use complementary/alternative medicine once they have passed the exam.
Articles 1 through 7 of the Decrees regulate conditions for practising complementary/alternative medicine. Annexes 1 through 4 list the specific requirements for each form of complementary/alternative medicine.
Article 1 identifies three categories of authorized medical practitioners: allopathic physicians, practitioners with a non-academic higher medical qualification, and other non-allopathic practitioners. Natural doctors are authorized practitioners who have passed the required exams and are permitted to use complementary/alternative medicine.
Article 1 also contains restrictions on the use of complementary/alternative medicine. Only allopathic physicians may practise homeopathy, Chinese and Tibetan medicine (including acupuncture), biologic dentistry, therapies using oxygenation, neural-therapy, anthroposophy, and magnetic bioresonance. Both allopathic physicians and medical practitioners with a non-academic higher health qualification may provide manual therapies. Practitioners who do not hold a higher health qualification may provide acupressure, massage therapy, lifestyle counselling, reflexotherapy, bio-energy, phytotherapy, and auriculotherapy.
Article 2 clarifies the legal framework in which natural doctors are allowed to practise. Paragraph 1 of Article 2 states that allopathic physicians are in charge of diagnosis, therapy planning, and patient follow-up. Other practitioners who have the necessary qualifications may participate in patient care at the request of the patient or through an allopathic physician's referral. Natural doctors who are non-allopathic physicians are allowed either to practise under the supervision of an allopathic physician or, more independently, to provide care after an allopathic physician has made a diagnosis. Consulting allopathic physicians may not oppose a patient's choice to seek treatment from a natural doctor.
Article 2 Paragraph 2 delineates medical acts that may not be performed by non-allopathic physicians. If a patient is under the treatment of an allopathic physician, natural doctors must consult the patient's allopathic physician.
Article 2 Paragraph 3 stipulates that only qualified psychologists or allopathic physicians with a qualification as psychotherapists are allowed to provide psychotherapeutic care based on natural medicine.
By Article 3, natural doctors must submit to the same directives as other medical practitioners, such as respecting obligations, abiding by ethical rules, and keeping patient records.
Article 4 permits the use of all regular drugs under the provision of complementary/alternative medicine. Homeopathic products not registered in Hungary can be used if the registration procedure is in process.
Article 5 gives the Institute of Health, under the authority of the Ministry of Social Welfare, the responsibility of regulating the training and examination of natural doctors.
Under Article 7, allopathic physicians with an academic degree in medicine may ask for a licence to practise as natural doctors without being required to take another exam. They are also allowed to use the title of "Natural Doctor", but to use the title of specialists in particular therapies, they must take the exam. Allopathic physicians are the only practitioners who do not have to pass the exams to practice complementary/alternative medicine. Psychologists with higher health qualifications and other practitioners must take a specific examination in natural medicine before they may use the title of "Natural Doctor". Natural doctors are registered and supervised by a special commission.
Annex 1 contains a complete list of authorized complementary/alternative treatments and of the medical practitioners who are allowed to provide them.
Annex 2 outlines the information that natural doctors must record, such as patient histories and a description of the current treatment.
Annex 4 gives the theoretical and practical requirements for examinations in acupuncture, massage techniques, lifestyle counselling, reflexology, physiotherapy, bioenergy, and auriculotherapy. For each therapy, the Annex lists the definition of the technique, practical and theoretical requirements, rules on ethics, and specific topics for examination.
In 1977, the Government recognized homeopathy as a medical method, but there is no officially recognized training programme or examination (86). Chiropractic is regulated, but not defined, by law. The Ministry of Education recognizes the Doctor of Chiropractic degree (65).