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& Answers re Heath Practioners Competency Act 2003 : 28 August
After many years of work by the NZAMH, our application
for registration under the scope of the HPCA has been approved
by the Minister of Health, Pete Hodgson. For the many people
who have been involved in this process, this is a huge achievement.
Members of the NZAMH believe that this is a logical and
important step for the profession of Western herbal medicine
and gave a clear majority vote to pursue statutory regulation.
It was discussed at two annual general meetings (2002 &2003)
and a written survey was conducted in 2004.
For some of us, (including practitioners who practice herbal
medicine but who don't belong to the NZAMH), we need to
understand how statutory regulation, including registration
of practitioners, will affect us as practitioners of herbal
It is also important to understand why the NZAMH chose
to take this path.
The HPCA Act gives medical herbalists the opportunity to
be on a level playing field along with all other health
professionals. It is a global requirement by WHO that all
health practitioners be registered, and the NZAMH regards
this as the pathway forward in order to preserve our profession
into the future.
Why did the NZAMH apply for statutory regulation of medical
Medical herbalists are presently facing increasing legislation,
which will affect the way we practice and the herbs we are
able to use.
Until we become registered with the government, qualified
practitioners of herbal medicine are considered to have
no greater authority or be of any greater qualification
in the practice of herbal medicine than the general public.
Over the last ten years, the general public and therefore
also practitioners of herbal medicine, have faced increasing
legislation from the government over the availability of
herbal medicines. That is, the Medicines Classification
Committee (MCC) has sought to schedule certain herbs under
the Medicines Act so that they are no longer available for
use, except by a general practitioner. As you will be aware,
GP's are not generally trained in herbal medicine and thus,
these herbs become lost from use. Examples of this include
Tussilago farfara (Coltsfoot), Symphytum offiicinale and
spp (Comfrey), Acorus calamus (Sweet flag) and so forth.
Moreover, the government does not even inform or consult
the NZAMH or any other association representing practising
herbalists, that legislation is to take.
More recently, the MCC sought to schedule Piper methysticum
(Kava) in harmonisation with the proposed Australia New
Zealand Therapeutic Product Agency (ANZTPA). Over the last
three years, members of the NZAMH committee have worked
hard (writing submissions and letters to the MCC) to preserve
the use of kava as an ethanolic extract in New Zealand.
Miraculously we were able to achieve this and kava is still
available for use by practitioners and the general public
in this country.
Registration will give medical herbalists the opportunity
to set up a 'practitioner-only' schedule under the Medicines
Act, for those herbs that are deemed unsafe for general
public use, but may be used by a registered practitioner
of herbal medicine.
Do you still have questions about registration?
Check if your query is answered in the information below
- then email us with your question and we will be in touch.
1. Would a member of NZAMH, but not a registered practitioner
under HPCA, still be able to practice herbal medicine?
Yes - they would be able to practice herbal medicine, however
only a registered practitioner would be able to call themselves
a "medical herbalist" or other such name.
Registration will protect the name 'medical herbalist'
and any other names that are specified by the Authority
for herbal medicine under the Act.
Registration does not prohibit others, even those untrained,
from using herbs.
Some herbs that are presently prohibited for use under
the Medicines Act may become available to registered medical
herbalists in the future.
2. How will registration affect those who practice herbal
medicine in related fields, such as practitioners in Ayurvedic
medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Naturopathy?
Practitioners in related fields will be unaffected by registration,
except that they will not be able to use the title "medical
herbalist" (or similar). Registration does not restrict
who else can use the same products that the medical herbalist
uses, unless a specific herb is scheduled under the Medicines
Read answer to question 7 also.
3. Who would the Authority for Western herbal medicine be
and what would they do?
An authority under the HPCA Act has between 5 and 14 members,
the majority of which must be health practitioners, and
include 2-3 laypersons. The Minister is required to publish
a notice inviting organisations for nominations before appointing
a member to an authority.
The authority is obliged to carry out certain functions
i) prescribing the qualifications required for scopes of
ii) authorising the registration of health practitioners
iii) reviewing and maintaining the competence of health
iv) setting standards of clinical competence, cultural competence
and ethical conduct
v) setting programmes to ensure the ongoing competence of
At this stage, the government has decided that no new Authorities
will be set up under the HPCA Act. Therefore, Western herbal
medicine will need to become part of a blended Authority.
The Ministry of Health is presently undergoing a review
of the HPCA Act, and until completed (end 2008), an interim
blended Authority for herbal medicine will be established.
4. How long will it take for an Authority in Western herbal
medicine to be established and for individual registration
of practitioners to become available?
We estimate that this will take one to two years.
5. How much will it cost, both to set up an Authority under
the Act and for annual practitioner registration ?
Cost has always been seen as the biggest drawback of statutory
regulation of Western herbal medicine. At this stage, the
NZAMH is unaware of what it might cost to set up an Authority
and we are endeavouring to research this further. Similarly,
we do not know what annual registration will cost for practitioners
until the Authority is established. Presently, we can only
look to other professions to provide an indication of cost.
As an example of this, the annual practicing certificate
for fulltime osteopaths is $1125, and for those working
in a part-time capacity (less than 10hrs) $562. Podiatrists
(an organisation who have similar numbers to ours) are charged
between $550 and $700 for an annual practising certificate.
6. What role would the NZAMH have in the future?
The NZAMH would be very similar to how it is now, except
we will no longer be required to manage the registration
of practitioners. In this respect, it is possible our membership
could be more open and not restricted by education requirements,
that would now be determined by the Authority for Western
The NZAMH will continue to represent and support the needs
of practitioners and of Western herbal medicine in NZ.
This includes activities such as:
· providing continuing education for medical herbalists
· supporting practitioners in practise
· creating public awareness of herbal medicine
· establishing group rates for indemnity insurance
· procuring health insurance cover for patients
· pursuing government funding and subsidies for herbal
· lobbying government on regulatory issues affecting
7. Would becoming registered necessarily address a range
of regulatory issues that we presently face, including the
right to use certain herbal medicines?
One of the main reasons the NZAMH applied for statutory
regulation is so that Western medical herbalism would become
a legally recognised profession. Thereby, individuals who
register as 'medical herbalists' could be considered as
a group of practitioners 'allowed' to use certain herbs
that are otherwise prohibited from use.
The establishment of a new schedule of 'practitioner-only'
herbal medicines is a separate matter from the HPCA Act
and comes before the Medicines Classification Committee.
As part of applying for registration of our profession,
we had a verbal agreement from the MCC that this would enable
medical herbalists to be allowed to use certain restricted
herbs. The NZAMH would need to continue to pursue this important
8. Would statutory regulation make us eligible for subsidies
and greater health insurance benefits for our patients?
Statutory regulation of Western herbal medicine is the starting
point so that funding of herbal medicines may eventually
happen. Since applying for statutory regulation, the NZAMH
was consulted on the review of the NZ Medicines Strategy.
This strategy considers the management strategy of medicines
in our health system, including funding available for medicines.
Future access to health subsidies is an issue that will
need consistent lobbying from our profession and will eventually
happen as integration of herbal medicine into our health
system takes place.
If subsidies were available for herbal medicine, it would
improve access to practitioner services from a broader cross-section
of patients including those from a lower socio-economic
Statutory regulation will now enable us to pursue insurance
benefits for our patients through private insurance organisations.
9. Will statutory regulation further the acceptance and
integration of herbal medicine into our health system?
Absolutely. Statutory regulation of Western herbal medicine
will allow medical herbalists to be included as an integrative
part of community health services.
During the process of applying for regulation, the profile
of herbal medicine in the Ministry of Health has increased
enormously. We are now part of the consultation process
on all issues that may relate to herbal medicine.
Although integration is likely to be slow, we will begin
to see the benefits of this in our professional practice
and for our patients.
If you have any further queries, please contact:
Angela Haldane 09)3760174 or 0274860237 firstname.lastname@example.org
Krista Breeds 03)5448761 or 0210392915 email@example.com
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Health Minister approves Medical Herbalists for Registration
Media Release 20th July 2007
Health Minister approves Medical Herbalists for Registration.
The Minister of Health Pete Hodgson has approved Western
Medical Herbalism for inclusion as a health profession within
the scope of the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance
Act 2003 (HPCA Act). The New Zealand Association of Medical
Herbalists (NZAMH) today welcomed this move as a step forward
in providing the public with greater choices in professional
"Registration of Medical Herbalism can be seen as a reflection
of the New Zealand healthcare system responding to public
interest and public health requirements, and will substantially
improve the integration of herbal medicine into the New
Zealand health care system." Kate McConnell, President of
the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists said today.
"As the Minister himself said recently 'a modern health
system needs to use all the tools at its disposal to make
and keep people healthy and well'."
The HPCA Act provides a framework for the regulation of
health practitioners to protect the public from harm. Health
professions that are currently within the scope of the Act
include doctors, nurses, chiropractors, optometrists, pharmacists,
osteopaths and psychologists.
Herbal Medicine is a unique modality, two of its strengths
being its value in preventative healthcare and its efficacy
in the treatment of chronic health disorders. Medical Herbalists
work within a traditional philosophical and therapeutic
framework that is inclusive of the medical sciences. Due
to this Medical Herbalists support a blend of scientific
and traditional values, thereby placing them in a unique
position within the healthcare sector.
The decision follows the recent Budget initiative to provide
funding for a new Chief Advisor in Integrated Care within
the Ministry of Health.
For more information or interview contact: Ms Kate McConnell:
09 422 6922, cell: 021 241 0600 firstname.lastname@example.org
The New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists (NZAMH)
approached the Minister of Health proposing to discuss the
role of herbalists and herbal medicines in pandemic planning
for avian influenza (H5N1 or "bird flu").
NZAMH President, Chris Tuffnell, said, "Review of the
Ministry's New Zealand Influenza Pandemic Action Plan shows
that the contribution of herbal medicine has not been included.Given
that there may not be an efficacious vaccine available,
and only enough Tamiflu for 20% of the population, the public
is entitled to know that there is alternative treatment
"Clinical studies indicate that specific herbs can be
used to increase immune resistance to influenza viruses.
Increased immune resistance will offer some protection against
contracting avian influenza. Herbs could also be used to
treat symptoms and aid recovery".
For more information or interview contact: Chris Tuffnell
(03) 544 8843 www.nzamh.org.nz NZAMH is the professional
body for Medical Herbalists in New Zealand. It maintains
a register of Medical Herbalists of skill and repute, fosters
a uniformly high standard for the teaching of herbal medicine,
ensures ongoing professional education for members and promotes
herbal medicine to the public and other health professionals.