Traditional Chinese medicine, chiropractic, and osteopathy are widely practiced.
There are no established professional organizations or self-regulating bodies for complementary/alternative practitioners in Malta.
The medical professions are regulated by Part II of the Medical and Kindred Professions Ordinance (Chapter 31 of the Laws of Malta) and Part IV of the Department of Health Ordinance (Chapter 94 of the Laws of Malta). Only registered allopathic medical professionals are allowed to practice medicine. In order to practice, a candidate must have a licence issued by the President of Malta and be registered in the Medical Register. To obtain this licence, the candidate must have successfully completed a university program leading to a degree as an allopathic medical doctor or the equivalent. Allopathic physicians may practice complementary/alternative medicine.
Non-allopathic practitioners are not legally recognized in Malta, and at present, there is no registration system for such practitioners. As stipulated in Chapter 31 of the Laws of Malta, non-allopathic practitioners are not allowed to perform procedures reserved for recognized allopathic medical professionals such as physiotherapists, physicians, and pharmacists. However, they are not prohibited from practicing medicine.
Although there are no legal sanctions on complementary/alternative practitioners themselves, a breach of the regulations outlined in Chapter 31 usually constitutes a criminal offence and is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both, according to the specific article breached. There are also restrictions on advertising treatments and clinics. The court exercises its discretion when determining appropriate punishment.
By Section 98 of Chapter 31 of the Laws of Malta, the only forms of complementary/alternative medicine licensed by the Ministry of Health are acupuncture, moxibustion, and traditional Chinese medicine. Conditions of licensing are imposed by the Ministry of Health as deemed fit.
Article 3 of the provisions requires clinics for traditional Chinese medicine to provide only traditional Chinese medicine. It further stipulates that patients diagnosed with an infectious disease must be referred to a registered allopathic medical practitioner for treatment and that no treatment for infectious diseases can be given at the clinics.
Article 6 of the provisions outlines hygienic standards for the clinics, and Article 7 states that all persons treated by traditional Chinese medicine, including acupuncture, must be referred by an allopathic doctor registered to practice in Malta. The Public Health Department must be informed of the name and qualifications of every person employed under licence. The Department is also responsible for carrying out inspections.
Acupuncture is not registered as a profession in Malta. Acupuncture licences are conditional upon proof of adequate training and experience. The licensee must renew the licence annually via a written application. Acupuncturists employed by the Mediterranean Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine are usually qualified allopathic doctors as well as acupuncturists.
Malta is considering allowing specific complementary/alternative providers, particularly chiropractors and osteopaths, to be registered by the local Board of Professions Supplementary to Medicine alongside allopathic professions.
Education and Training
Bonesetters are usually taught through family training. Some chiropractors and osteopaths are certified by overseas teaching institutions. As there is no local registration of these practitioners, there are no standardized qualifications to practice.
The State runs acupuncture clinics within the public health services. Treatment at these clinics is provided free of charge. Private acupuncture clinics provide their treatment on a fee-for-service basis. The costs of acupuncture and other complementary/alternative medical services obtained privately are not reimbursed.
Private insurance does not cover complementary/alternative care.