SINGAPORE: An additional S$10 million will be invested in the support and develop the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) sector, Senior Minister of State for Health Chee Hong Tat announced on Wednesday (Aug 2).
Speaking at the convocation of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Biomedical Science and Chinese Medicine programme, Mr Chee said S$5 million will go to a new TCM developmental grant.
The grant will co-fund the training and development of registered TCM professionals, provide funding to accredited TCM course providers and support TCM clinics in adopting technology. Applications for the grant will open in January next year.
The other S$5 million will go to a TCM research grant that was set up in 2014. The grant, which is used for collaborative research on prevalent chronic conditions in Singapore, has seen “good progress” so far, according to Mr Chee.
For example, he said, a collaboration between Singapore Eye Research Institute and Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution found that acupuncture helped with the treatment of dry eyes and significantly reduced conjunctival redness, compared to the standard treatment of using artificial tears.
“These results are very encouraging, and with further research and testing I hope they can be incorporated in our mainstream treatment procedures across the healthcare system in the future,” Mr Chee said.
The additional money pumped into the grant will support collaborations between researchers in public healthcare institutions, TCM industry players and institutes of higher learning over the next five years, Mr Chee said.
The Ministry of Health has also expanded the scope of the grant to cover research into traditional Chinese exercises such as taiji, therapies like tuina (a form of massage) and the use of TCM herbs in preventing diseases and improving patient outcomes.
“I encourage our doctors and scientists to keep an open mind to the potential value which TCM can offer, and work with the TCM industry to conduct evidence-based research and studies to verify the efficacy of TCM methods and products,” Mr Chee said.
The Senior Minister of State also announced that the Government intends to make it compulsory for TCM practitioners to undergo a structured continuous education programme by the TCM Practitioner’s Board yearly to have their practising certificates renewed.
The programme, currently voluntary, is meant to ensure that practitioners are up to date with the latest developments in their field.
The change will align Singapore’s TCM registration requirements with those overseas, Mr Chee said. It will take effect after the TCM Practitioners’ Act is amended and authorities will allow for a transition period, he added.
"I urge all TCM practitioners to start preparing for this so that you refresh your skills and knowledge and keep up to date with the latest TCM developments,” he said.