MOH will look at the possibility of incorporating TCM in Healthier SG, Latest Health News - The New Paper

MOH will look at the possibility of incorporating TCM in Healthier SG

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) could be used to bolster one's health and well-being when Singapore's new preventive care strategy Healthier SG rolls out next year.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung told Parliament on Wednesday that TCM is very strong in preventive care and the Government is looking at how it can complement Healthier SG.

Over the past year, MOH (Ministry of Health) and the TCM community have established two work groups, to work on issues such as enhancing TCM clinical training and improving career development. Once completed, it can be a basis to explore how to involve TCM in support of Healthier SG, he said.

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh had raised the issue of making TCM a part of Healthier SG and suggested that Medisave be extended to cover more TCM procedures and alternative therapies that have a proven role in managing general health and in preventingchronic diseases.

Mr Singh said MOH should look into the costs of alternative medicine that substantively produce the same clinical outcomes as medicines and drugs disbursed by public healthcare institutions.

For example, Fybogel, which is commonly dispensed for constipation, can cost around $20 without subsidies, whereas Psyllium Husk which confers similar if not identical benefits and can be purchased from Little India and even NTUC supermarkets for under $3, he said.

Mr Ong said it is not the case that one is a western medicine product and one is a TCM product. They are similar, and both are dietary supplements, not medicine.

He said he hopes that TCM will be a part of Singapore's preventive care strategy that will shift the gravity of care from the hospitals to the community.

But TCM will not and cannot substitute western medicine, he said.

They are two separate systems, disciplines and knowhow. They may intersect and overlap but cannot expect one to be like the other, he said.

For example, western doctors will not likely profess to understand the balancing of the elements of the body over the long term.

"And if you ask a TCM doctor: This patient needs a life saving urgent operation, can you replace it? He will say: No, go for the operation. Most TCM practitioners will say that too," Mr Ong said.

"So I think they respect each other's space strengths and weaknesses"

He said he has had several discussions with the incoming chairman of the TCM Board, Dr Teo Ho Pin on TCM matters. He replaces Mrs Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, who will complete her three terms as Chair by the end of February next year.