DOH seeks professionalization of massage therapy industry

Jun. 15, 2010

DAVAO CITY—The Department of Health (DOH) is seeking to uphold the massage therapy profession by promoting and standardizing the licensure exam for massage therapists.

According to Marialyn Avanceña, Nurse 3 of the Human Resources Development Unit of DOH Southern Mindanao, they are encouraging massage therapists to acquire their license from the DOH.

Most massage therapists have gotten their National Certificate (NC) Level 2 from Technical Skills Development Authority (Tesda). However, Avanceña said that having an NC-2 is not tantamount to having a license from the DOH.

“Maybe after getting your license from the DOH, you can proceed to specialize like then get a NC-2,” Avanceña said.

Massage licensure exams are more comprehensive than NC-2. And topics touch on anatomy, physiology, micro-pathology, foundations, applications and legal background of massage therapy.

The licensure exams are held twice a year in key cities like Manila, Cebu and Davao.

The importance of having a license lies in Presidential Decree 856, an old law that mandates that massage clinics, spas and saunas must have at least one licensed massage therapist manning the establishment.

Tess Tatara, executive director of the International Nykr Academy, a Cebu-based massage-therapy review and training center, said that there are currently only a few licensed therapists hence local government units and the DOH cannot be pressured to implement the law.

She noted that many license-takers have difficulty grappling with the subject as most of them are only high school graduates. The DOH has commissioned a group from UP-Manila to study, observe and make recommendations to standardize the licensure exam.

Tatara agrees with Avanceña that it is better to get the DOH license first before specializing in TESDA courses as proven in overseas employment where employers prefer looking at the massage license.

“NC-2 is not enough proof that you had undergone sufficient training. The proof that they are looking is your massage license,” Tatara said.

Aside from overseas employment, Tatara said that having a license means they are professional and can demand minimum wage. She noted that most therapists are paid only by commission basis. Most days, there are no customers for the day and they receive no pay.

Tatara said that there is a rapid growth in the industry as spas and other establishments are sprouting up employing many therapists.

Meanwhile Avanceña said that the thrust of the DOH now is to ladderize the said licensure program. Once they can pass the exams they can step up to take a Physical Therapy Course which in turn is a pre-med course where interested therapists can proceed to take up medicine. (PIA XI)

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