Suggestion: Develop a practical plan to legalize the profession of chiropractic.
An appeal for legal recognition in Taiwan of the chiropractic profession has appeared in every edition of the Taiwan White Paper since 2006, giving it the unfortunate distinction of being the longest unresolved White Paper issue ever. After years of study abroad and receiving licenses from the United States and other developed countries, the chiropractic doctors who have returned to Taiwan must exist in a state of limbo to provide their services to local patients. They are tolerated (on condition that they don’t advertise, maintain websites, or otherwise publicize those services) but are not accorded the professional recognition and dignity they deserve. This uncertain status has discouraged many more Taiwanese doctors of chiropractic from coming back from abroad.
The many reasons why this state of affairs is unfair to the individuals involved and more importantly detrimental to Taiwan’s healthcare system have been explained at length in previous White Papers.
Taiwan is just a few years away from being a “superaged” society, with 20% of the people aged 65 years old or more. Chiropractic has been proven in numerous studies to be safe and effective in treating many of the aches and pains that affect the elderly, including low-back pain, neck pain, headaches, and other neuromusculoskeletal ailments.
Another reason why the need for chiropractic will be increasingly evident is the growing popularity in Taiwan of physical activity, including cycling, running, hiking, or working out in the gym. Those activities, while positive in creating a healthier populace, may also lead to aches and pains that chiropractors are uniquely trained to deal with.
Crucially, as a form of treatment that uses no surgery and no medication, chiropractic is less costly than alternative approaches. As a result, greater use of chiropractic could bring immense savings to Taiwan’s overall healthcare program – a key consideration at a time when the aging population and other factors will be placing growing financial strain on the National Healthcare Insurance system.
Taiwan is virtually alone among major countries in the world in not establishing a legal basis for chiropractic. In countries where the profession was not previously established, it was introduced through the authorities’ willingness to recognize degrees and licenses from advanced nations.
In this market, the introduction of chiropractic has met opposition from the existing medical establishment, which regards it as potential competition. That is a short-sighted view. In the United States and elsewhere, it is now common for medical doctors and doctors of chiropractic to collaborate well on teams providing patients with holistic treatment.
Until now, the authorities have insisted that two other steps must precede the legalization of chiropractic in Taiwan – the creation of chiropractic departments in domestic universities or medical schools, followed by establishment of a national licensing system. But the proposed first stage makes this process a non-starter. No educational institution will invest to start a department whose graduates are not assured of legal recognition.
The chiropractic doctor members of AmCham Taipei are indebted to the National Development Council (NDC) for its continued willingness to help seek a solution to this problem. Under the NDC’s arrangement, additional meetings are scheduled to take place in the near future with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and various stakeholder groups. We hope that in these discussions this longstanding White Paper issue can be looked at with fresh eyes so that a meaningful solution can be devised. The beneficiaries will be Taiwanese patients and the Taiwanese healthcare system.