Several methods of complementary/alternative medicine are integrated into the social welfare system of Latvia.
Homeopathy and acupuncture are the most popular types of complementary/alternative medicine. Most complementary/alternative practitioners are allopathic physicians. There are several complementary/alternative medical associations.
The Council of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia has delegated the power to regulate and supervise all medical specialties to the Medical Society of the Republic of Latvia. The Cabinet of Ministers’ Regulations on the Certification of Health Professionals of 1995 provides procedures for licensing medical professionals.
In order to practice legally as a recognized physician, a candidate must have graduated from a local medical academy or from any other medical college delivering a recognized diploma. Candidates must also obtain authorization according to local legislation. Before allopathic physicians can legally practice complementary/alternative medicine, they must complete the requisite course and exam for the State licence, which is valid for five years. In order to renew a licence, a practitioner must complete a new course and examination. Allopathic physicians providing complementary/alternative treatments – such as acupuncture, homeopathy, auriculotherapy, iridology, magnetotherapy, osteoreflexotherapy, phytotherapy, naturopathy, laser-therapy, biofeedback, Ci-Gun, and Su-Jok – are supervised by a commission of experts that includes members of medical associations and the Medical Society of the Republic of Latvia.
Acupuncture and homeopathy have the same clinical specialty status as allopathic specialties.
Local laws regulate complementary/alternative medicine.
The Administrative Codex prohibits non-allopathic practitioners from practicing medicine of any kind. However, patient lawsuits are uncommon except in cases of serious harm to their health.
Education and Training
Since 1990, over 300 physicians from the Scandinavian and Baltic States of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania have completed training in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.
There are a few special programs for non-allopathic physicians intended to give them basic medical knowledge. These programs consist of between one and two years of medical courses at a medical school. Qualification courses in the Reiki method and medical astrology are also offered.
Complementary/alternative treatments are generally not covered by the compulsory health insurance. Acupuncture and homeopathy are exceptions: in 1994 they were included in the list of medical specialties reimbursable by social insurance.
In September 1998, two insurance companies, Balta and Parex, began coverage of legally provided complementary/alternative medicine. They cover two-thirds of expenses for consultations and treatments by acupuncture, homeopathy, Dr R. Voll electropuncture, iridodiagnosis, and bioresonance when are provided by authorized allopathic physicians. Treatments given by non-physicians are not covered.