PITAHC key note speech: Update on the TAMA Law by Dr. Francis Ras MD

Good morning to everyone!

In behalf of Dr. Juvencio F. Ordona, PITAHC Director General and presently attending a meeting with the Ministry of Health Representative of India, we would like to extend our warmest greetings to the members of the Comprehensive Iridollogy Practitioners Association of the Philippines (CIPAP) as they celebrate the First National Convention. In this regard I was given the task to deliver his Key Note speech regarding the TAMA Law, its present policies and programs.

On this present day, where modern Western medicine takes the lead in improving the quality of health of the Filipinos, many still cannot afford the privileges allopathic medicine has offered. This is the reason our Department of Health started the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Program in 1992, under the leadership of then Secretary of Health Sen. Juan Flavier.

It was in 1997 that the approval of Republic Act No. 8423, also known as the Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act of 1997, created the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (PITAHC). The Institute is a government-owned and controlled corporation attached to the Department of Health that answers the present needs of the people on health care through the provision and delivery of traditional and alternative health care (TAHC) products, services, and technologies that have been proven safe, effective, and affordable. More importantly, we are mandated by law to accelerate the development of traditional and alternative health care and to integrate traditional and alternative medicine into the national health care delivery system.

The Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act tasks the institute the following:

  1. to encourage scientific researches on traditional and alternative health care systems (TAHC);
  2. to promote and advocate the use of traditional and alternative health care modalities which are proven safe, effective, and cost effective;
  3. to develop and coordinate skills training courses for various forms of TAHC modalities;
  4. to formulate standards, guidelines, and codes of ethical practice of TAHC modalities;
  5. to formulate policies for the protection of indigenous and natural health resources technology;
  6. to formulate policies to strengthen the role of TAHC delivery system; and
  7. to promote traditional and alternative health care in international, national conventions, seminars, and meetings.

These objectives have a direct bearing in our programs and projects as well as to our partner TAHC practitioners and institutions. These also further strengthen our vision of “Traditional and alternative health care in the hands of the people”.

The interim organizational structure of PITAHC compliments the respective programs and special projects which were formulated based on the vision of PITAHC and its objectives.

Social Advocacy and Training Division

The division is responsible for the promotion and advocacy of traditional and alternative health care in the country. Among its regular activities include training on basic acupuncture for physicians, acupressure for common ailments, Tuina massage, and community-based herbal medicine preparation such as herbal soap, herbal ointment, and decoction.

It also conducts orientation seminar series on different traditional and complimentary/alternative medicine to the different regions of the country, with special focus on the training of municipal health workers and community/village health workers, as they are the ones who are directly engaged in overseeing their community’s health.

The trainings in these communities have resulted not only in both health and economic benefits and accessibility of the needed health remedies, but also in positive attitudinal changes that is building of people’s confidence and self-image. More importantly, it practically freed them from dependence on commercial drugs and demonstrated in the community’s ability to use and develop local resources to manage and solve their common non-complicated health problems.

Standards and Accreditation Division

The division is responsible for formulating standards and guidelines for the practice of various forms of TAHC modalities. In order to accelerate the practice of certain modalities, public review workshops focused on the draft competency standards, code of ethical practice, as well as accreditation system are being conducted.

At present, the institute has formalized through publication in the National Administrative Register, the competency standards, code of ethical practice and accreditation system for the practice of acupuncture and chiropractic. The institute is presently certifying acupuncturists and chiropractors and accrediting training programs, centers and clinics.

Competency standards, code of ethical practice as well as accreditation system are currently being worked on for the practice of naturopathy and homeopathy.

Moreover, the institute is also coordinating with a local government health insurance (PhilHealth), in the hopes of allowing its members to avail of benefits when treated by acupuncture and other forms of TAHC modalities in the future.

Research Division

The division is responsible for the conduct of priority TAHC research agenda that will have direct impact on public health care.

Research is more concentrated on herbal medicine through use of WHO guidelines for clinical research of herbal medicine. Four our of ten priority herbal plants that has undergone research is now listed in the Philippine National Drug Formulary and includes Lagundi (Vitex negundo), Sambong (Blumea balsamifera), Yerba buena (Mentha cordifolia) and Tsaang Gubat (Carmona retusa).

The division is also collaborating with the National Institute for Health of the University of the Philippines for the research Documentation of Philippine Traditional Knowledge and Practices in Health. Moreover, the institute collaborated with the Research and Biotechnology Division of the St. Luke’s Medical Center for the research Screening of Indigenous Bioresources for Antiviral Actrivity: Phase I – Cellular and Molecular Assays using a Dengue Virus In VitroModel.

In addition, product development is currently being conducted on Psidium guajava for use as antiseptic and feminine wash.

The Institute has four herbal processing plants strategically located all over the country. Originally set up as research centers for herbal medicine, the herbal processing plants are responsible for the manufacturing of the different herbal products being marketed by the Institute. They produce the following: Lagundi tablet and syrup; Sambong tablet; Tsaang gubat tablet; Herbal soaps; and herbal teas.

At present there were hospitals that integrate the practice of Traditional/Alternative Complementary Medicines into their Health Care Services

  1. DOH-retained hospitals integrating TM into allopathic medicine:

–     Veteran’s Regional Hospital

–     Mariano Marcos Memorial Hospital and Medical Center

–     Philippine Orthopedic Hospital

–     Amang Rodriguez Medical Center

  1. Private hospitals integrating TM into allopathic medicine

-         Medical City

-         Delos Santos Medical Center

-         St. Lukes Medical Center

-         Asian Hospital

To further support our programs and activities, the institute has just finished constructing its own four-storey building which is located within the East Avenue Medical Center compound. PITAHC will offer traditional and alternative health care therapies like acupuncture, massage, and other alternative health care modalities.

With these projects and activities, we hope to attain our objective soon and carry out our mission that is to “Uphold the right of every Filipino to better health through the provision of safe, beneficial, affordable, and culturally-acceptable traditional and alternative health care products, services, and technologies”.


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