Angry Doctor

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Alternative MC

Another letter to the ST Forum asking for medical certificates from TCM practitioners to be accepted, this time by schools.

Schools should accept medical certificates of Chinese sinsehs

We were extremely dismayed to read the article 'Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) board suspends 2 Chinese sinsehs' (ST, Aug 26) about a physician's illegal dispensation of drugs and another's import of prescription drugs without a licence.

Although TCM has a rich history, it has a diminished status compared to Western medicine and such reports do not bode well for the public's perception of TCM.

Schools do not accept TCM medical certificates. But Chinese sinsehs' medical certificates are accepted by some employers.

If TCM has been around for thousands of years and has been effective for the Chinese, why are the medical certificates of Chinese sinsehs not accepted?

By rejecting their medical certificates, the government is restricting the choice of treatment of the individual.

Can the authorities explain the rationale for not accepting them in schools?

Tammy Tsang Yun Ying (Miss)

We've been through this topic before.

angry doc is not against the idea per se, but he wishes the proponents would argue their case more effectively. Or that the Forum Editor would not edit their letters such that their arguments seem disconnected, which may be the case here.

Now if you look at Miss Tsang's letter, you will find that the first two paragraphs do not actually argue for her case. In any case, western doctors get brought before the Medical Council for selling Subutex or bubble-tea at their clinics, but that has never prompted calls to not recognise MCs from western doctors.

Or is Miss Tsang saying that we should not publicise cases that will adversely affect the public's perception of TCM?

The argument that the current policy restricts a patient's choice to treatment is a partially-false dichotomy (is there such a thing?). The fact is one *may* seek treatment from a TCM practitioner and then see a western doctor for an MC. Many people do that. Some even tell their western doctors they do that. There is no law which prevents one from doing so. The patient will have to spend extra time and money to see a western doctor, but that does not strictly speaking restrict the patient from seeking treatment from TCM practitioners unless he really cannot afford the time and expenses of seeing a western doctor over and above those of seeing a TCM practitioner.

As for TCM having been around for thousands of years, well, so has the practice of applying cow dung to umbilical stumps. The antiquity of a practice is irrelevant to the issue.

Miss Tsang says that TCM is effective for the Chinese. angry doc hopes it works for patients of other races too. But he would argue that the effectiveness of the treatment of a particular medical discipline is also irrelevant to the issue at hand.

What the MC does is to certify that one is ill and unift for school or work. What you theoretically need is just someone who can tell if a person is ill and unfit for school or work. Whether that 'someone' can make you well again is again irrelevant - western doctors cannot cure the common cold or some cancers, but they can nonetheless certify a patient unfit for school or work on the grounds of them suffering from those illnesses.

So if angry doc were to argue for the acceptance of MCs from TCM practitioners, he would argue thus:

If you register and recognise TCM practitioners as being fit to judge if a person was sick (and to prescribe appropriate treatment for him), then you should recognise that they can also certify if that person was unfit for work or school. If you do not, you should, as Miss Tsang has requested, explain the rationale behind your decision.

I think that would be a stronger argument.

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