Folk manipulative service is a traditional healthcare technique with a longstanding history in Taiwan, encompassing people's lifestyle, religion and culture. It is considered as a form of non-orthodox remedy. Previously, in order to enforce order in the management of the health care industry, on 19 November, 1993 Taiwan's health authority proclaimed on "Behaviors Listed as Non-Subject to Medical Administration and the Relevant Items", including massage, shiatsu, scraping, foot massage, spiritual balancing, sacred charm, incense ash, cupping, qigong, neigong and folk herbal plasters, and other traditional folk behaviors that do not involve the use of instruments, medicines and invasive procedures. All of these were categorized as folk manipulative services, thus receiving some recognition as established practices. However, practitioners may not claim to have proven therapeutic effects or use medicines. Moreover, advertising content for such services is restricted.
Due to the close association of folk manipulative service with health, the Executive Yuan appointed the Ministry (formerly the Executive Yuan Department of Health) as the central authority for "Folk Manipulative Service Industry Management and Regulation" on October 17, 2012. In light of this, the Ministry has strived towards improvement in 4 major aspects-strengthening the legal framework, improving personnel skills, devising a licensing system, and protecting consumers' safety-in order to achieve orderly management of the industry, upgrade the quality of the industry's human resources, and ensure service quality.
In order to administer the folk manipulative industry within a regulatory framework, the Ministry proclaimed and implemented "Folk Manipulative Service Practitioner Work Ethics Guideline" and "Folk Manipulative Service Industry Management Regulations" in 2014 and 2015 respectively, providing a legal framework for the practitioners to abide by. Furthermore, folk manipulative services are defined as non-orthodox remedies, such as traditional physical management, tui-na, massage, foot massage, shiatsu, scraping, cupping and folk herbal plasters. To enhance the legal compliance of practitioners, the Ministry has organized legal education and training sessions since 2015 (Figure 5-1), offering courses regarding the Medical Care Act, the Sexual Harassment Prevention Act, the Consumer Protection Act, and occupational health and safety, etc. Qualified personnel who have completed education and training sessions are listed in the Folk Manipulative Services section of Ministry of Health and Welfare's website for the public's reference. In an effort to establish the folk manipulative service industry licensing system, the Ministry has promoted the systematization of folk manipulative training, inspection, and personnel education. The skill verification operation of "Folk Manipulative Service Traditional Physical Management" has been completed, and the skill verification test for this category was first launched in November 2019. The Ministry planned education and training systems, and developed new categories for the technician certification program by combining 3 major elements of theory, practice and internship. This education and training system is devised to advance the certification of industry talents, so that the public may enjoy the traditional health-promotion methods and wisdom passed down by our ancestors.
In light of inconsistent training quality in different folk manipulative service groups, and in order to maintain group training quality, the Ministry will continue to assist folk manipulative service groups through the Ministry of Labor's Talent Quality Management System (TTQS). Moreover, the Ministry will help the different groups complete documents, such as course curricula and learning maps, through course analysis, design, development, implementation, and assessment in order to conduct iCAP compliant courses. The objective is to effectively establish a professional talent training system by standardizing training courses and organizing courses that can cater to the industry's needs. In the future, the Ministry will strive to establish a legal framework for folk manipulative service management, thereby upgrading the industry in a progressive manner and promoting folk manipulative services to the international stage, making it a unique element of Taiwan's tourist industry.
Figure 5-1: Legal education and training course conducted for the folk manipulative service industry