Provisional Legislative Council

Panel on Health Services
Meeting on 9 March 1998

Report on the Legislation of Chinese Medicine


This paper reports on the present position.


2.The Preparatory Committee on Chinese Medicine set up in March 1995 was tasked to advise the Administration on how to promote, develop and regulate Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. The Committee drew up a list of recommendations and submitted them in a Report to the Administration in March 1997.

The Plan

3.After consideration of the Committee's recommendations, we have drawn up a recommended way forward for the development of Chinese medicine in Hong Kong. We propose to accept the Committee's recommendation on the establishment of a regulatory framework to control the practice, use and trading of Chinese medicine. The proposed framework will adopt the "self-regulation" principle. A statutory regulatory body composing of mainly members of the Chinese medicine profession and industry will be established to implement the regulatory measures. To ensure the standard of practice, we propose to set up a registration system for the Chinese medicine practitioners. As there are currently a large number of practising Chinese medicine practitioners in Hong Kong, we will propose some transitional arrangements for them. We also recommend setting up a licensing system and a registration system to regulate the trading of Chinese medicines and to ensure that the medicines sold are fit for human consumption. We propose to begin with the regulation of potent/toxic Chinese herbal medicines, and then to regulate the manufacturers, importers/exporters, wholesale dealers, retailers as well as the processors of Chinese medicines through a licensing system. We will also, therefore, implement measures to regulate the proprietary Chinese medicines. We agree that some formal education in Chinese medicine should be developed and we encourage the providers to co-operate and give priority to the further training of the existing practitioners and dispensers. We encourage further researches and developments in Chinese medicine.

4.To implement the introduction of statutory regulation of Chinese medicine, we envisage the following time-table:

To introduce legislation for the establishment of a regulatory framework for Chinese medicine1998/99 Legislative Session
To introduce subsidiary legislation1999/2000 Legislative Session
To commence registration of Chinese medicine practitionersIn 2000
To introduce the regulation of Chinese medicinesImplemented by phases from 2000

The Public Consultation Exercise

5.With the publication of a consultation document setting out the strategies proposed above, a public consultation exercise was conducted from 6 November to 31 December 1997.

6.The response to the consultation exercise is encouraging. We have received about 50 submissions from various organizations and individual members of the public. We have also attended meetings of Provisional District Boards to explain our proposals and to solicit their views.

7.Organizations which have submitted comments include some Chinese medicine practitioners' associations, Chinese medicines associations, organizations of practitioners of western medicine, and those of the western medicines trade as well as individual members of the public.

Different views were expressed on the proposals, and they are summarised as follows :-

1. The establishment of a statutory regulatory system

    · most organizations and individual members of the public support the proposed establishment of a statutory framework for the regulation of Chinese medicine;

    · regarding the composition of the regulatory bodies, most respondents support that the future regulatory body should consist of members from inside as well as outside the Chinese medicine sector. To fulfil the "self regulation" principle, representatives from the Chinese medicine sector should form the majority of those bodies;

2. Registration of Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Regulation of Practice
    · there are divided views on the proposed transitional arrangements for the registration of the currently practising Chinese medicine practitioners. On one hand, some organizations point out that the Government should work out some feasible arrangements to ensure that the practising Chinese medicine practitioners can continue to provide service to the community. On the other hand, some point out that the Government should be extremely careful in designing the transitional arrangements to ensure that only practitioners of acceptable standard would be allowed for registration and to continue to practise;

    · mention has been made regarding whether the future registered Chinese medicine practitioners should be allowed to issue valid sick leave certificates and other medical documents;

3. Regulation of Chinese Medicines

    · regarding the proposed regulation of Chinese medicines, most respondents support the establishment of a licensing system for Chinese medicine traders and a registration system for Chinese medicines;

    · there are suggestions that in the long term, a regulatory system should be set up to regulate the practice of the dispensers of Chinese medicines, who work in the frontline dispensing Chinese medicines to members of the public, playing an important role in ensuring the safe and proper use of Chinese medicines;

4. The long term development of Chinese medicines

    · most respondents support the development of formal Chinese medicine education programme. Many respondents remind that there should be courses specially designed for practising Chinese medicine personnel, including dispensers of Chinese medicines;

    · most organizations and members of the public support the promotion of Chinese medicine research and development; and

    · many respondents support that Chinese medicine should be included in the health care system of Hong Kong, for example, through the development of Chinese medicine out-patient service.

The Future Plan

8. Although the public consultation exercise has ended, we will continue to liaise with members of the profession and the trade on the details of the regulatory system in order to understand their concerns and to obtain their views.

9.To enable us to meet our target of introducing the legislation in the 1998/99 legislative session, we have started the drafting of the bill.

Health and Welfare Bureau
9 March 1998