Recognizing the traditional and alternative healthcare in the country, the government proclaimed the month of November as the Traditional and Alternative Health Care Month. In line with this, the Philippines Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care celebrated the 10th TAHC Congress, which was aimed at harnessing the contribution of traditional and complementary medicines (T&CM) to health, wellness and people-centered health care.

10TH TAHC CONGRESS: Harnessing the contribution of T&CM to health, wellness and people-centered health care
10TH TAHC CONGRESS: Harnessing the contribution of T&CM to health, wellness and people-centered health care

Together with the local government of Davao City, the TAHC (Traditional and Alternative Health Care) Congress celebration at the Apo View Hotel on Nov. 22 to 23 gathered at least 300 T&CM practitioners who participated in the congress.

“This yearly event of the PITAHC was to gather all T&CM practitioners in the country to show that we are here and PITAHC is here to stay and we should bond together because, as they say,  ‘together we stand divided we fall,’” PITAHC director general Dr. Annabelle Pabiona De Guzman said.

She also added that it is the right time for all T&CM practitioners to bond together to effect a change that will bring the industry to another level, in which, progress and development in the national and even international level will be achieved.

“This is the time to harness the energies of all the practitioners of T&CM, which we will all show to the world that we are a number that can be contended with. We have something to show. Like the Pista ng Pagagamutang Pilipino. This is the first time that we will be gathering all the traditional indigenous healers to make it known to everyone that it is all part of traditional medicine.” She stressed.

The PITAHC has invited some of the most influential personalities in the field of western medicine and T&CM for the 10th TAHC Congress: Dr. Isidro Sia (The Science on the Practice of T&CM), Dr. Cecilia Maramba-Lazarte (Herbal Medicine Research in the Philippines), Dr. Antonio Ligsay (Herbal Medicine Research in PITAHC), Dr. Francis Gomez (Success and Stumbling Block of Herbal Medicine Integration into the Pharmaceutical Industry) Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan( Filipino Traditional Healing), Dr. Micaller (Naturopathy), Dr. Martin Camara (Chiropractic Medicine), and Dr. Aimee Chua (Anthroposophic Medicine)

The PITAHC since 2012, when its mandate was changed and was reclassified as a research institute, the agency has been fulfilling three major functions, which are for the advancement of traditional and alternative medicine in the country.

According to Dr. Pabiona-De Guzman, the PITAHC functions as a research institute that led them to the field of herbal medicine; the agency also serves as an avenue for standards and accreditation, wherein they bring all TAHC modalities practitioners like hilot, acupuncture, chiropractic medicine, naturopathic and homeopathic medicines, together to strengthen his healthcare system. The PITAHC is also expected to come out with social advocacy campaigns to raise awareness and better understanding of the entire facet that involves traditional and alternative medicine.

Compared to other Asian nations, which have T&CM, the Philippines is way behind when it comes to facilities and training but the director general is hopeful for the fast development as the national government is fully supporting its cause.

“When we had the ASEAN Congress last year wherein we invited the other ASEAN countries and they shared about their best TAHC practices, I noticed we’re so behind already because they have universities with teaching and training facilities for traditional and alternative medicine, and T&CM is also integrated to their universal healthcare system. And this is what we are trying to address that is why we are supporting the House Bill 7950.”

The House Bill 7950 seeks to empower the PITAHC by providing it with regulatory powers over traditional and complementary health care. The bill also proposes to increase the agency’s human resources and upgrade equipment, testing laboratories, and field offices.

The bill also wishes to rename of the institute from PITACH to the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Complementary Health Care or PITCHC. If the bill is passed into law, it will entail the transfer of regulatory powers of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on traditional and complementary medicines to the PITCHC.

“If all the proposals stipulated in the bill is approved, the PITAHC can easily and effectively monitor all its accredited members and the products they are producing,” she stressed.

And as another year presses on, the director general still hopeful for the things she envisions for the PITAHC since the first day she assumed the top post in this office. “All the campaigns we are doing right now is ultimately geared towards the integration of the T&CM to the universal healthcare system of the country. This will give more Filipinos access to other healthy options other than western medicine. Second, I know that we are still far from achieving this, but change can still happen, and who knows in the very near future, the Philippines will also have its own universities for T&CM?”

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