Suggestion: Find a means to move forward with an effective plan to legalize the profession of chiropractic in Taiwan.
Little progress has been made over the past two years toward devising a pathway for recognizing chiropractic as a legitimate and respected form of alternative healthcare for Taiwanese patients. The issue, which has been part of AmCham’s advocacy agenda for a dozen years or more, continues to be by far the longest-standing unresolved topic to appear in the Taiwan White Paper.
In its inability to formulate a practical solution to this problem, Taiwan has been an outlier internationally. In nearly every other major jurisdiction in the world, governments have found ways to incorporate chiropractic into their healthcare systems. And the World Health Organization, which Taiwan eagerly aspires to join as either a member or observer, has long acknowledged the value and legitimacy of the chiropractic profession.
Over the years, the chief obstacle blocking a breakthrough in Taiwan has been the opposition of the politically influential medical establishment. Nevertheless, the active intervention of the National Development Council (NDC) has offered some hope that a solution can be attainable. Although the Taiwan authorities have been unwilling to simply recognize the licenses of foreign-trained doctors of chiropractic (as many other countries have done), they have seemed open to considering another possible way forward. If a chiropractic course of study were to be instituted in a local university or medical school, then the government would have more incentive to establish a domestic licensing program for the chiropractic practitioners.
Indeed, some educational institutions have appeared interested in exploring the idea of offering such training. But without firm assurance that their graduates could obtain licenses to confirm their professional credentials, understandably no school would be willing to invest in hiring the faculty, procuring the equipment, and organizing the curriculum to launch a chiropractic department. Equally relevant, what young person would apply for admission to such a department without certainty that the degree would provide entrance to an officially recognized profession?
The NDC said it would look into the matter further through discussions with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and Ministry of Education, which is where the matter stood two years ago when the COVID-19 virus shook the world. Since that time, government officials – especially those responsible for healthcare and educational affairs – have been thoroughly occupied with campaigns to control the pandemic. Earlier this year, however, at the most recent meeting to review White Paper issues, the NDC suggested enlisting the involvement of a Minister Without Portfolio to provide high-level support in order to finally come up with a feasible way forward.
Why does this issue matter? Above all, 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. Because chiropractic treatment involves neither surgery nor medication, it 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 population.
In addition, the foreign-trained, foreign-licensed chiropractic doctors practicing in Taiwan currently 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 five years of post-graduate educational training. 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.
Let’s make this the year for Taiwan to finally catch up with most of the rest of the world in adding chiropractic to the fully recognized healthcare options available to the public.