A rights group has slammed the government for issuing what it described as unrealistic standard operating procedures (SOPs) that make things difficult for the traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) practitioners to operate during the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
In a statement today, TCM Rights Watch expressed its disappointment over conditions imposed on the operations of TCM in various phases of the NRP.
"We disagree with these unrealistic additional measures as announced by the government and we found that these restrictions would create difficulties for us and it is disrespectful to the profession," said the watch group.
TCM operators were instructed to shut down during the latest movement control order (MCO 3.0) and enhanced MCO, but they are allowed to operate during Phase 1 of the NRP.
However, TCM practitioners and centres can only conduct online consultations for their patients during this stage. Outpatient service will only be allowed in states that have entered Phase 2.
Face-to-face consultations can be conducted with physical distancing during the second phase while home visits and treatments involving physical contact will be allowed under Phase 3.
The whole sector can run without restrictions under Phase 4.
"Phase 1 of the NRP is allowing us to operate, but it is almost equal to not allowing us to resume work because we can only have physical contact with the patients as we entered Phase 3.
"Will veterinarians, dentists and those involved in physical therapies agree to provide an online diagnosis to treat their patients?" asked the group.
"I believe they will not accept such arrangements. Just put yourself in others' shoes. We are afraid that it would take many weeks before we can fully operate as we enter Phase 4.
"The government's move to relax the rules in stages may appear to be rigorous, but it deviates from the clinical reality, and it is not good for the rehabilitation of the patients.
"There is no restriction of physical contact for physiotherapies and barbers. The restriction imposed on the TCM industry indicates double standard," the group added.
The group also pointed out that the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) has turned down the application to resume operation by a few practitioners on the ground that they are not essential services.
According to a notice issued by Health Ministry’s TCM Division published on June 1, TCM is not under the list of essential services allowed by the National Security Council to operate.