Suggestion: Develop and begin implementation of an effective plan to legalize the profession of chiropractic in Taiwan.
More than a decade has passed since the above suggestion first appeared in an AmCham White Paper, making the uncertain legal status in Taiwan of chiropractic doctors the oldest unresolved White Paper issue.
The issue should not be so difficult to solve. The World Health Organization has long acknowledged chiropractic as a valuable form of alternative medicine, and more than 100 countries have found ways to incorporate chiropractic into their healthcare systems. Taiwan is one of only a handful of major jurisdictions where that objective has so far been impossible to achieve.
The core obstacle has been the opposition of the medical establishment, which in Taiwan continues to be quite politically influential. Nevertheless, through the active involvement of the National Development Council and some productive discussions with the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), progress appeared to be occurring a few years ago toward working out a path forward for recognition of chiropractic. Then progress was stalled last year due to the arrival of COVID-19. Understandably, the Ministry needed to put all other issues aside to concentrate on fighting the pandemic. This year that priority continues. Although the Taiwan government’s handling of the coronavirus has been among the most effective in the world, the vaccination program has just begun and the battle continues.
As soon as feasible, however, attention should again be directed to the incongruous status of chiropractic in this society. Until a reasonable solution can be devised, the foreign-trained, foreign-licensed chiropractic doctors practicing in Taiwan have had to exist in a state of limbo, remaining so low-profile that they may not even operate websites. It is an assault on the dignity of professionals who have typically gone through the equivalent of five years of post-graduate medical education and training in Taiwan.
Further, the nebulous status also leaves chiropractic doctors vulnerable to harassment by ill-wishers who complain to local health authorities that chiropractors are practicing medicine without a license. Although such charges are likely to be dismissed upon review, chiropractors are left in a state of constant insecurity.
Even more importantly, the current situation has limited the availability of chiropractic care in Taiwan, depriving the local public of access to a valuable form of healthcare appreciated by countless patients the world over. Chiropractic offers relief to patients suffering from low-back pain, neck pain, headaches, and other neuromusculoskeletal ailments. The U.S. alone has more than 70,000 licensed chiropractors.
Chiropractic treatment involves neither surgery nor medication, and so represents a highly cost-effective approach that could relieve some of the financial burden on Taiwan’s National Health Insurance program as Taiwan becomes a super-aged society.
It is long past time for Taiwan to catch up with most of the rest of the world in adding chiropractic to the fully recognized healthcare options available to the public. Once public health conditions permit, the chiropractic-doctor members of AmCham Taiwan urge the authorities to finally come up with a practical plan to provide legal recognition to their profession.