22 June 2010
DOHA: Qatar may soon have more facilities and practitioners offering alternative medicine as the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) is working on a comprehensive policy to organise and regulate this important sector.
A proposal to open up the Qatari healthcare sector to include internationally approved branches of alternative medicine has been pending for long. A clear decision on this issue can be expected very soon, a senior SCH official said yesterday.
“The Supreme Council of Health is preparing a comprehensive policy taking into account all aspects of this issue. The proposed plan would come up for the consideration of the Permanent Licensing Committee very soon,” Dr Jamal Rashid Al Khanji, Director of the Medical Licensing Department at SCH, said in an interview with The Peninsula.
“There is a need for alternative medicine in the country and we must address that need in a safe way. We must ensure that fraudsters don’t enter the market in the name of alternative medicine. This calls for strict supervision as well as standards and regulations to organise and monitor the sector,” added Al Khanji.
He said the department had already granted permission to a few private facilities to offer alternative medicine, including homeopathy, and was ready to consider more applications from qualified practitioners operating in this field.
The department is responsible for licensing and monitoring all private healthcare practitioners as well as facilities in the country. According to the requirements set by the department, only physicians in homeopathy holding a master’s degree are eligible to apply for a licence, explained Al Khanji. He, however, added that the criteria were subject to change since clear-cut standards and regulations were yet to be laid down in this sector.
“We know that a homeopathy practitioner does not necessarily require such high qualifications. However, we have opted for that as a beginning to organise the sector. Such regulations can be relaxed in future,” said Al Khanji.
He noted that there was already a system in place in Qatar to monitor the import and sale of herbal and other traditional medicines. Qatar had recently banned several medicines that claim to be herbal, having found that they contain hazardous chemicals.
The Pharmacy and Drugs Control Department at SCH is responsible for licensing and monitoring all medicines being imported into and sold in the country.
“There will be stricter monitoring of medicines as well as the practitioners when the market is open to alternative medicine,” said Al Khanji.
He pointed out that some other GCC countries that had already allowed alternative medicine were also in the process of regulating the sector.
“Ideally, there should be an exclusive department to handle alternative medicine. Qatar being a small country, we don’t feel that need at this stage,” said the official.
Source : http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/qatar/54704-alternative-cures-get-official-nod.html
Supreme Council of Health : www.zawya.com/cm/profile.cfm/cid1004542