Thailand: Practice of the Art of Healing Act B.E. 2542 (1999) and the Licensing of Practitioners

  • General Information

Under the Practice of the Art of Healing Act; B.E. 2542 (1999), the Ministry of Public Health officially recognizes 3 types of TM/CAM as branches of “the Art of Healing”; namely, Thai traditional medicine (TTM)10, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)2, and chiropractic2

According to the Act, the art of practice of TTM can be divided into 2 categories; i.e., Thai traditional medicine and applied Thai traditional medicine.  The ‘Profession Commission in the branch of Thai traditional medicine’ and the ‘Profession Commission in the branch of applied Thai traditional medicine’ are responsible for the registration and issuing or revoking the license of TTM and applied TTM practitioners, respectively.1 The Bureau of Sanatorium and Art of Healing, Department of Medical Service Support, Ministry of Public Health serves as the secretariat office of the two profession commissions.  In addition, the commissions are also responsible for the control of professional practice by setting up the standards and code of professional practice, reviewing and approving the teaching curricula of academic institutions, and considering professional misconduct of practitioners and appropriate measure of punishment.1  In order to become a licensed practitioner, a person must take a licensing examination given by the commissions in the branch that he/she was trained for.  Similarly, there are also Profession Commissions in the branch of TCM and chiropractic that have the same responsibilities in their branch of practice.  Therefore, any person who would like to practice any of the three branches of TM/CAM recognized by the Practice of the Art of Healing Act; B.E. 2542 (1999); namely, TTM, TCM or chiropractic must be registered with respective profession commission and pass licensing examination offered by the profession commission to become a licensed practitioner before he/she can legally practice.1

Licensing of TTM and applied TTM practitioners

As previously mentioned, according to the Practice of the Art of Healing Act B.E. 2542 (1999), the art of practice of TTM can be divided into 2 categories; i.e., Thai traditional medicine and applied Thai traditional medicine.  In order to become a licensed applied TTM practitioner, a person with Bachelor’s degree in applied Thai traditional medicine must pass a licensing examination that cover all areas of TTM; namely, Thai traditional medicine, Thai traditional pharmacy, Thai traditional midwifery and Thai traditional massage (Nuad Thai).  Licensed applied TTM practitioners will be able to practice all areas of TTM under one license.  In contrast, in order to become a licensed TTM practitioner, a person who is qualified to take a TTM licensing examination (completed apprenticeship training or received degree or certificate from certified academic institution) needs to pass separate licensing examination for each filed of TTM practice to obtain separate licenses to practice in each of the four fields of TTM.1

According to Article 33(1) of the Practice of the Art of Healing Act, in addition to the requirement to pass licensing examination to become a licensed practitioner, there is another procedure that a person with a long practical experience in Thai folk massage can be registered and licensed as a TTM practitioner; namely, by being certified by a government office and passing the evaluation process under the conditions set by the Profession Commission in the branch of Thai Traditional Medicine.1  This system of licensing is based on two Notifications of the Profession Commission in the branch of TTM issued on July 13, 20044,5 involving

  1. The evaluation of a person whom a government office certified as one with experience in Thai indigenous medicine for the registration and licensing as a Thai traditional medicine practitioner in the field of Thai traditional medicine4; and
  2. The evaluation of a person whom a government office certified as one with experience in Thai massage for the registration and licensing as a Thai traditional medicine practitioner in the field of Thai massage5

These Notifications gives folk healers who have never has a license for the practice of Thai traditional medicine but have long experience and knowledge in Thai indigenous medicine (folk medicine) or folk massage and have used their experienced knowledge of Thai indigenous medicine or folk massage to treat various symptoms or diseases of people in their communities for many years an opportunity to be registered and licensed as TTM practitioners in the field of Thai traditional medicine or Thai traditional massage after passing the evaluation by the Profession Commission.4,5

The Notification of the Profession Commission in the branch of Thai traditional medicine specifies the qualifications of a person who has the right to be nominated as one with experience in Thai indigenous medicine or Thai massage as follows4,5

  • Has Thai nationality
  • Resides in Thailand
  • Has experience in Thai indigenous medicine for not less than 20 years
  • (For experience in Thai massage) Has one of the following qualifications or experiences: -
    • is a TTM practitioner in the field of TTM with experience in Thai massage for not less than 12 years, is a teacher of Thai massage for not less than 7 years and is at least 32 years of age, or
    • is one with experience in Thai massage for not less than 14 years, is a teacher of Thai massage for not less than 9 years, and is at least 37 years of age, or
    • is one with experience in Thai massage for at least 20 years.
  • Does not have forbidden characteristics described in the Article 32(3)-(7) of the Practice of the Art of Healing Act B.E. 2542.Table 6 shows the number of licensed TTM and applied TTM practitioners as of 20 September 2011.

In pursuance of the above-mentioned notifications, the guideline for the screening and evaluation of folk healers, qualifications of folk healers, and criteria for the evaluation were set up.  The information required for the evaluation of a folk healer is divided into three parts; namely, 1) personal history including how one obtain or gain knowledge on folk medicine and his/her area of expertise; attitude, belief, and conduct as a folk healer; 2) case studies of patients who received treatments by the folk healer (qualitative study in at least 10 cases & quantitative study); and 3) study on the acceptance of the folk healer by his/her community.6

The first group of licensed TTM practitioners in the field of Thai massage (81 people) was issued the license by this method on 29 September 2005.  As of October 2012, there have been 161 folk healers who passed the evaluation by TTM Profession Commission and became licensed TTM practitioners in the field of Thai traditional medicine.

Table 6 shows the number of licensed TTM and applied TTM practitioners as of 20 September 2011.7

Table 6: Number of licensed TTM and applied TTM practitioners as of September 2011.16

Types of practitioners

Cumulative number of licensed practitioners

Fiscal year 2011

(Oct 10-Sept 11)

New

Total

1. Thai traditional medicine

49,038

5,159

54,197

1.1 Thai traditional medicine

17,779

1,184

18,963

1.2 Thai traditional pharmacy

23,951

2,105

26,056

1.3 Thai traditional midwifery

6,780

493

7,273

1.4 Thai traditional massage

528

1,377

1,905

2. Applied Thai traditional medicine

826

396

1,222

Source: Bureau of Sanatorium and Art of Healing, Department of Health Service Support. Statistics of practitioners of the art of healing, fiscal year 2011 (as of 20 September 2011).

Draft Thai Traditional Medicine Profession Act
During the past three years, attempt has been made by civil society sector to draft and propose a new Act entitled “(Draft) Thai Traditional Medicine Profession Act (B.E…)” to the parliament.  This draft Act (along with two other versions of the draft Act proposed by the House of the Representatives) was considered, revised, and eventually passed by the House of the Representatives.  Currently, the draft Act is being considered by an Ad Hoc Committee of the House of the Senate and is expected to be considered and reviewed by the House of the Senate in late 2012.  It is estimated that the reviewed Act will finally be passed by the House of the Senate and the Act will be promulgated before the end of the year 2012.  After the Act becomes effective, there will be a major change on the regulation of the practice of Thai traditional medicine practitioners as they will become “Thai traditional medicine doctors” and the licensing and the regulation of the practice will no longer be under the authority of the two Profession Commissions but will be under the authority of the Thai Traditional Medical Council that will soon be established.

Licensing of traditional Chinese medicine practitioners
The Ministry of Public Health by Bureau of Sanatorium and Art of Healing, Department of Health Service Support is responsible for organizing TCM licensing examination once a year.  As of September 2011, the Ministry of Public Health has issued license for the practice of TCM to 388 qualified persons.  Among these, 309 are TCM doctors who learned TCM from their ancestors and lived in Thailand for more than 3 years, while 79 are TCM doctors who received Bachelor’s Degree in TCM from universities in Thailand or abroad.8
In addition, to TCM practitioners, modern medicine doctors or physicians who passed the three-month course on acupuncture certified by the Ministry of Public Health can also give acupuncture treatment for the patients in health service facilities.  As of September 2011, there were 1,004 physicians who completed this three-month training course on acupuncture.8

Licensing of the practitioners of chiropractic
Even though chiropractic is another branch of the art of healing recognized by the Ministry of Public health, it is not available in the public health service facilities.  The practice of chiropractic is available in private clinics or hospitals where the practice of chiropractic will be under the supervision of licensed physician(s) according to the Practice of the Art of Healing Act12.  As of 20 September 2011, there were only 19 licensed chiropractic practitioners in Thailand.7

  • Contact Details

Bureau of Sanatorium and Art of Healing
Department of Health Service Support
Ministry of Public Health
Tiwanont Road, Muang, Nonthaburi
Thailand 11000
Tel: +662 590 1331, +662 589 0757
Fax: +662 590 1332, +662 5901 8844 #303
Website: http://mrd-hss.moph.go.th/mrd/

Reference:

  1. Practice of the Art of Healing Act B.E. 2542 (1999). Thai Royal Gazette, Vol. 116 Pt. 39 A. 18 May 1999.
  2. Ministry of Public Health Notification (No.1) B.E. 2543 (2000) on “Permission of a person to practice the art of healing based on traditional Chinese medicine”. Thai Royal Gazette, Vol. 117 Pt. 71 D. 5 Sep 2000.
  3. Ministry of Public Health Notification B.E. 2549 (2006) on “Permission of a person to practice the art of healing based on the science of chiropractic”. Thai Royal Gazette, Vol. 123 Spec. Pt. 100 D. 28 Sep 2006.
  4. Notifications of the Profession Commission in the Branch of Thai Traditional Medicine on “Evaluation of a person whom a government office certified as one with experience in Thai indigenous medicine for the registration and licensing as a Thai traditional medicine practitioner in the field of Thai traditional medicine”.Issued on July 13, 2004.
  5. Notifications of the Profession Commission in the Branch of Thai Traditional Medicine on “Evaluation of a person whom a government office certified as one with experience in Thai massage for the registration and licensing as a Thai traditional medicine practitioner in the field of Thai massage”. Issued on July 13, 2004.
  6. Kulsomboon S, Ubolkhao P, et al. (eds.). Handbook on the evaluation of folk healers. 2nd ed. Bangkok: SamcharoenPanich. 2011.
  7. Bureau of Sanatorium and Art of Healing, Department of Health Service Support. Statistics of practitioners of the art of healing, fiscal year 2011 (as of 20 September 2011). [cited 2012 Oct 7]. Available from: 203.157.6.204/Admin/filestat/54.xlsx
  8. Techadamrongsin Y, Hazanine T, Jirapinijwong S (eds.).  Development of traditional Chinese medicine in Thailand. Bangkok: Union of Agriculture Cooperatives in Thailand Priniting.2554. 64 pages.

 

 

National Health Commission

National Health Commission Office of Thailand

National Health Building, 3rd Floor,

88/39, Tiwanont 14 Rd., Muang District,

Nonthaburi 11000 Thailand.

Tel: +66-2832-9000

Website: http://en.nationalhealth.or.th/