Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) practitioners should not be regarded as incompetent as the medical halls were run by many of these practitioners over decades and generations, said the president of the Malaysian Society for Complementary Medicine, Dr Lee Chee Pheng.
Dr Lee said people should understand that “TCM is not an alternative to modern medicine, but only for complementing modern treatment as per the government’s stand”.
“Medical halls have been run by many of these practitioners over decades and generations and we should not brand them as incompetent in monitoring the situation (effects of consuming natural herbs on human organs).
“As such, before any claim is made on traditional medicine, it should be supported with reference or verified by scholars well-versed in the field.
“Wild claims being made on traditional medicine without sufficient proof can mislead the public,” he told in an interview.
He was responding to a news article in an English daily recently which quoted Health Ministry’s Traditional and Complementary Medicine Division director, Dr Ramli Abd Ghani, as saying that it was better for cancer patients to get modern medical treatment because there was no alternative or traditional treatment that had been scientifically proven to cure cancer for now.
Dr Ramli was also reported to have said that last year, the division received more than 30 complaints relating to unethical practices, overcharging, and cheating, but the number was likely to be more because people were too embarrassed to complain.
“TCM practitioners may claim that this or that herb can cure cancer, for instance, with no scientific proof,” he said, adding that there were concerns about steroids and adulterated drugs or chemicals added to the herbs.
Dr Lee said such statements could be misleading, especially when the traditional medicine industry contributed a greater percentage to the country’s herbal industry’s annual turnover.
He said there were claims that people were showing concern over drugs prescribed by modern medicine practitioners in the country.
“Medical doctors may claim that their surgery and treatment can cure certain ailments but it works otherwise sometimes. My dad died of multiple organ failure due to steroids prescribed by medical doctors for his rheumatoid arthritis and
do they have the right to do this?
“Do you mean that modern medicine has the licence to kill or to kill slowly with its side effects? Have you heard anyone from the Malaysian Medical Council highlighting such cases?”
He said that knowing the TCM Act was not in place yet to guide and regulate the industry, people could easily make unsubstantiated claims against the practice without valid proof.
Dr Lee said it was the Health Ministry’s duty to provide proper guidelines with regard to misconduct or wrong prescription involving TCM.
There are approximately 15,000 TCM practitioners in the country.