Support TCM, but not with blanket subsidies

As a primary form of healthcare service in Singapore, complementary and alternative medicine has become more popular with the elderly.

We cannot deny that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) plays an important role that complements Western medicine.

However, if the state were to extend grants and subsidies to TCM clinics and patients, respectively, as suggested by Mr Ng Boon Khee ("Develop hub to integrate Western medicine, TCM"; Wednesday), there is the cost factor to consider.

And this cost must come in the form of taxes.

TCM is a form of complementary medicine. Our Government's objective in helping the elderly and the needy is to help them access affordable mainstream medicine.

There are many charitable TCM organisations in Singapore which provide easy access to affordable or free TCM services in the community.

Our seniors and the needy are encouraged to seek TCM treatment at these clinics.

Singapore's healthcare delivery system is based on individual responsibility, with government subsidies to keep basic healthcare affordable.

The setting up of the Singapore College of Traditional Chinese Medicine to produce graduates who can provide TCM healthcare is a significant contribution to the field.

The Government recognises TCM as having an important role in complementary medicine and has identified a range of specific TCM services in dealing with certain chronic diseases and clinical conditions related to ageing.

This support is further demonstrated by the setting up of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board, a statutory board under the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Act.

The board registers TCM acupuncturists and physicians and accredits TCM institutions, as well as regulates the professional ethics and conduct of TCM practitioners.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2015, with the headline 'Support TCM, but not with blanket subsidies'. Print Edition | Subscribe