Singapore: Traditional Chinese medicine sector to receive government funding

Ministry of Health said it will add an additional funding of S$5 million over the next five years to the TCM Research Grant (TCMRG)

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The Singapore Merlion is seen in front of the city centre, in Singapore. Reuters

The Singapore government, through the Ministry of Health, will be injecting additional funding for the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) sector.

In an announcement, MOH said it will add an additional funding of S$5 million over the next five years to the TCM Research Grant (TCMRG) to encourage collaborative researchers in the public healthcare institutions, TCM industry players, and members of the academe.

The move adds to the S$3 million fund which had earlier been put aside for the sector in 2012 for the same purpose. Currently, two grant calls have been made, garnering a total of 47 proposals.

The scope of the grant was extended beyond clinical research to include studies on traditional Chinese exercises, therapies, and TCM medicinal herbs and products.

Additionally, the health ministry will also set up another S$5 million TCM Development Grant.

As it envisions TCM practitioners to stay relevant and be encouraged to continue professional learning, MOH will be supporting them with skills development and capacity building.

Applications for the grant will open at the start of 2018.

The grant aims to provide co-funding for training and professional development of all registered TCM practitioners and acupuncturists, including TCM allied healthcare workers such as clinic assistants and herbal dispensers listed with TCM Practitioners' Board

More so, the ministry will also support TCM service providers to bolster their operational efficiency through the adoption of IT solutions and better healthcare information through technology.

The move builds on MOH's earlier efforts to raise standards in the industry. Since 2000, TCM professionals are required to pass the Singapore TCM-physician Registration Examination (STRE) conducted by the TCM Practitioners Board (TCMPB).

TCMPB launched a structured Continuing TCM Education (CTE) programme for registered TCM practitioners in 2013.

"With the introduction of the STRE and CTE, the professional standard and calibre of TCM practitioners in Singapore have risen over the years," MOH said in a statement.

It added, "With support from the TCM industry, we intend to make CTE a requirement for the renewal of practising certificates. It will align Singapore's TCM registration requirements with overseas jurisdictions."