Chiropractors in Search of Legal Standing

As Taiwan’s population matures into a “super-aged” society, with a predicted 20% of its population 65 years or older by 2025, the problem of long-term care for Taiwan’s elderly population looms. Taiwan’s doctors of chiropractic see themselves as potential contributors to meeting this challenge. Chiropractic, dedicated to the treatment and prevention of disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine, is freely practiced in over 90 countries and recognized by the World Health Organization. Yet in Taiwan it has remained in legal limbo.

For more than a decade, the Taiwan Chiropractic Doctors Society – composed of professionals trained and licensed abroad – has appealed through the annual Taiwan White Paper of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei for the government to acknowledge the profession’s status as a healthcare provider. The response of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) has been that the first step must be establishment of a chiropractic course of study in one of Taiwan’s universities. In practice, however, no schools have been willing to invest the resources required to establish such a program without assurance that the students can be fully licensed after graduation.

To circumvent this “Catch 22,” in this year’s White Paper  the chiropractic doctors have called on the government to take an active role in working with colleges to establish a comprehensive plan for chiropractic education, to be followed eventually by setting up Taiwan’s own licensing program. In the interim, the group requests that the law be modified to recognize the qualifications of foreign-licensed chiropractic doctors to practice in Taiwan.

Encouraging the development of chiropractic in Taiwan would help the increasing number of elderly in this society to ease their aches and pains. It would also help relieve some of the financial pressures on the national healthcare system, as chiropractic is a relatively inexpensive form of treatment in that it uses neither surgery nor medication. International studies provide evidence of chiropractic’s cost-effectiveness in treating various disorders.