Traditional Chinese Healers Association

P.O. Box 12752 Mill Street,

Gardens, 8010


Ms V Majalamba


Submission by the Traditional Chinese Healers Association to the Health Portfolio Committee on the Traditional Health Practitioners Bill [B 20  2007].


The Traditional Chinese Healers Association (TCHA) has reviewed the Traditional Health Practitioners Bill [B 20 2007] and would like to congratulate all involved in drafting the Bill. We welcome the extended consultation and the latest call for comments on the Bill and would like to propose the following:



General comments:


1.       The Bill must be commended for reference to all forms of traditional health in a number of clauses, but the Traditional Chinese Healers Association is concerned that despite Classical Chinese Medicine [1] following traditional health practices, philosophies and principles as defined by the Bill, practitioners are excluded from being covered under this Act (p 4 – definition for ‘traditional health practice’).

2.       Although we are ‘registered’ with the Allied Health Professionals Council, they do not recognise traditional philosophies and training methods (master-to-student). The Allied is structured around the regulation of alternative and complimentary healers (e.g. Western medical doctors who have done a short course and practice acupuncture periodically in addition to Western medical practice). The people regulating us have no understanding of the principles underpinning traditional systems of medicine. This is being evidenced in definitions within the Act, which give no recognition to the traditional aspects of Chinese medicine, effectively altering a complex, ancient traditional practice to a narrowly defined Western practice, without consultation with people affected by these amendments. Section 22 of the Constitution stipulates: “Every citizen has the right to choose their trade, occupation or professional freely. The practice of the trade, occupation of profession may be regulated by law.”

3.       We also commend the Bill for recognizing ‘traditional tutors’ and traditional internship type training (Master-to-student) – the members of TCHA are all trained and train under this system. In China, these healers were originally called “barefoot doctors” and had such a positive impact on health that were recognized and influenced the Alma Ata declaration. Unfortunately the system in China is now predominantly standardized and taught in colleges and universities and in general no longer adheres to the traditional philosophies and practice.

4.       There is a global tendency to try and apply Western standards to traditional practice – we fear that if we are regulated under a structure that does not give due recognition to the traditional philosophies and methods of training, this ancient traditional healing practice could be lost to South Africa. South Africa can play an important role in ensuring the continuation of this ancient traditional practice, ultimately for use in improving health in under resourced communities.



Specific input:

The Traditional Health Practitioners Bill [B 20 2007] could without adaptation include the Classical Chinese Medicine practitioners, except for the fact that they are currently supposed to be registered under the Allied Health Professionals Act and therefore excluded.



The Bill states:


Bill (p2)

To establish the Interim Traditional Health Practitioners Council of South Africa; to provide for a regulatory framework to ensure the efficacy, safety and quality of traditional health care services; to provide for the management and control over the registration, training and conduct of practitioners, students and specified categories in the traditional health practitioners profession; and to provide for matters connected therewith.



Traditional Chinese Healers training and practicing with traditional philosophies should, according to the above definition be regulated under this council. There are further examples throughout the Bill e.g. within the definitions, the Objects of the Bill (p26), etc. There is however no such recognition of the traditional philosophies or training within the Allied Health Professions Act. If the Traditional Health Practitioners Council to be established will carry the responsibility of regulating traditional health care services in South Africa, the Traditional Health Practitioners Bill needs to allow for inclusion and membership of all traditional healers following traditional philosophies and training.






We would be happy to further elaborate on this or provide clarity if required.


Peter Siyata: Secretary: TCHA


Dr Jeff Lan: Chairperson TCHA




[1] It should be noted that there are two different ‘streams’ of Chinese medicine both internationally and in South Africa. What is commonly referred to as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) usually refers to a standardized and academic/institutionalized healing – this is the most common form, including within in China where Chinese medicine was standardized to satisfy Western standards. It is this form that is recognized by the Allied Health Professional Council South Africa (AHPCSA).


There are however a small group of traditionalists who have followed a lineage “master-to-student” training, and hold ancient information passed down through generations. It is this group that needs to be looked at separately, as the traditional philosophies and training are not recognized by the AHPCSA and in danger of being lost. We have (as have a few groups internationally) called it Classical Chinese Medicine to distinguish it from the standardized TCM.