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Allied Health Profession

Placebo is a Latin word which, roughly translated, means ‘I will please’. In the medical world, the term is used for a treatment – mostly pills, but also surgery and other procedures – which, medically, has no effect.

In other words, the pills just contain flour and sugar, and the surgery is just pretend – the whole rigmarole of surgery theatre, anaesthesia, nurses, incisions, stitches and bandages happens, but the surgeon doesn’t actually cut anything out. The patient just believes he has had the surgery, or that he is taking some medication, and he recovers from the ailment. In short, his brain is deceived into doing the repair work.

So, if our brain can regulate physiological functions – and, particularly, the control of immunity1 — on its own, who is to say that there are not other ways of preventing and treating disease and disorders? Well there are, and I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of acupuncture, reflexology, homeopathy, chiropractics and meridian therapy. (At least, that’s what I tell myself ☺)

There is an increasingly large and important body of these ‘alternative’ health practitioners.2 Their professions are regulated by the Allied Health Professions Act 1982,3 which falls under the authority of the Minister of Health, although the Act is administered on a day-to-day basis by the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa.4

A. Registration

  1. If not registered as an allied health practitioner, it is an offence to:
    • practise any such profession for gain;5
    • perform any act specially pertaining to such profession (unless such act also pertains to the profession for which the practitioner is registered);6
    • pretend to be any such practitioner;7
    • use such title or any other title or description indicating that he holds such a qualification.8
  2. Such a practitioner (and a student not registered as a medical practitioner in terms of the Health Professions Act 1974) may not:
    • pretend to be a medical practitioner, or make use of any description indicating that he holds the qualification of a medical practitioner;9
    • perform any act which does not fall within his prescribed scope of practice,10 and commits an offence if he does.
  3. It is a crime to:
    • procure any certificate, order or prescription by means of a false representation, or assist any person in doing so;11
    • make any unauthorised entry or alteration in a register, or any copy or extract therefrom, or on any certificate issued under the Allied Health Professions Act 1982;12
    • wilfully destroy, damage or render illegible any entry in the register or (without the permission of the holder) any certificate issued under this Act;13
    • forge any certificate, or utter (i.e. tender) any document purporting to be a certificate under the Act.14
    • pretend to be registered in terms of the Act;15 or
    • supply to any person who is not registered under the Act (or the Health Professions Act, 1974, or the Nursing Act, 1978) any instrument or appliance which is claimed to be effective for the purpose of diagnosing, treating or preventing physical or mental defects, illnesses or deficiencies in man, knowing that it will be used for the purpose of an act which such unregistered person is prohibited from performing for gain.16

B. Education and training institution

  1. It is an offence to offer or provide any education or training in any allied health profession unless such education or training has been considered by the relevant professional board, and approved by the Council.17

  2. Any person or institution wishing to offer or to provide such education or training shall, before doing so, apply to the Council for its approval. It is an offence not to do so.18

  3. The Council may prescribe such conditions and requirements as it deems fit relating to the education and training in question. It is a crime to contravene any such conditions or requirements.19

  4. The Council can authorise investigations relating to the education or training of any class of persons registered under the Act. Any person who prevents an authorised investigator from entering any institution or premises, or hinders him in the investigation commits an offence.20

C. Disciplinary inquiries

  1. The Council holds inquiries into allegations of professional misconduct. If you have been summonsed, it is an offence if you:21
    • refuse, or without sufficient cause fail to attend at the time and place specified in the summons and give evidence relevant to the inquiry;
    • refuse to take the oath, or to make an affirmation when required to do so by the chairperson concerned;
    • refuse to produce any book, record, document or article which you have been required to produce;
    • attend before the Council (or the committee concerned) but refuse to answer, or to answer fully and satisfactorily to the best of your knowledge and belief, any question lawfully put.
  2. Any person who gives false evidence on oath or affirmation at an inquiry, knowing that evidence to be false, shall be guilty of an offence.22

  3. After holding an inquiry the Council may, by order:23
    • suspend that practitioner from practising or from performing any particular act; or
    • impose such conditions as it may deem fit, subject to which that practitioner will be entitled to continue practising or to continue with the performance of any such act.

    It is an offence not to comply with any such order.

  1. See, in general, ‘Neural top-down control of physiology’ in Wikipedia and the authoritative references cited. 

  2. These include an acupuncturist, ayurvedic practitioner, chiropractor, homeopath, naturopath, osteopath, phytotherapist, therapeutic aromatherapist, therapeutic massage therapist, and therapeutic reflexologist. 

  3. As amended; the latest amendment was effected by Act 50 of 2000. The professions of ordinary medical doctors, dentists, physiotherapists, and various specialists are regulated by the Health Professions Act 1974. See the page for ‘Health Profession Regulation’. 

  4. The Council’s offices are at Castelli Suite, il Villaggio, 5 de Havilland Crescent South, Persequor Technopark, Pretoria (tel: 012 349 2331) and the website www.ahpcsa.co.za

  5. Section 31(1)(a). 

  6. Section 31(1)(b). 

  7. Section 31(1)(c). 

  8. Section 31(1)(d). 

  9. Section 32(1)(a). 

  10. Section 32(1)(b). 

  11. Section 32A(a). 

  12. Section 32A(b). 

  13. Section 32A9(c). 

  14. Section 32A(d). 

  15. Section 32A(e). 

  16. Section 32A(f). 

  17. Section 16A(1) read with section 16A(5). 

  18. Section 16A(2) read with section 16A(5). 

  19. Section 16A(3) read with section 16A(5). 

  20. Section 16D. 

  21. Section 24(3)(c). 

  22. Section 28. 

  23. Section 30(2).