Hong Kong's chiropractic practitioners sent out a strong message on Friday, saying they demand higher status and recognition in the healthcare community.
Representatives of two chiropractic associations urged the government to set up local schools to train practitioners and introduce chiropractic into public hospitals as alternative healthcare.
Chiropractors complained that sick leave certifications issued by their offices frequently are not acceptable to employers, who, under the Employment Ordinance, cannot reject certifications signed by other types of practitioners and doctors defined under the ordinance.
The Friday meeting was the first official contact between the government and chiropractors since the first chiropractic treatment center opened in the city in 1993.
"We have been here a long time and we have always been ready to serve Hong Kong citizens. All we need is for the government to give us a chance to do so," said Henry Chan Hin-keung, president of the Hong Kong Chiropractors' Association.
He made the appeal on Friday, in the company of Legislator Wong Kwok-hing and other representatives.
Since a registration system for chiropractors was set up in 1993, 140 practitioners have been granted recognition.
All were educated abroad, and then opened clinics after returning to Hong Kong.
Officials from the Education Bureau and the Food and Health Bureau said they will give serious consideration to the proposals.
Speaking of the distinctive policy for sick leave certifications applied to chiropractors, the Labor Advisory Board refused to make any adjustment earlier this month, stating that only 44,300 people had turned to chiropractic treatment and no medical records system had been established.
Moreover, the board said, there's no professional training system for chiropractors in Hong Kong.
"It's a chicken-and-egg problem, we couldn't receive training locally since we don't have enough support from the government to provide such education in Hong Kong in the first place," said Chan.
"We are as well educated as doctors of Western medicine, not to mention that the treatment itself is a non-drug therapy that is a more cost-effective choice for patients. We deserve more chances to serve the public," said Chan.
The government responded that none of the eight universities in the city had ever applied to set up chiropractic programs, nor had the chiropractors applied to the Hospital Authority to be included in speciality services.
"The government reacted rather passively to the chiropractic practitioners' request. They should take the initiative to help promote the industry and gain more attention from society," said Legislator Wong Kwok-hing.
(HK Edition 05/21/2011 page1)