Allied Health Professions Act 2016

Introduction 

The Allied Health Professions Act 2016 (“AHPA”) which was gazetted in the year 2016 came into force on 1st July 2020. The AHPA aims to regulate certain allied health professions which were previously largely unregulated. The AHPA establishes the Malaysian Allied Health Professions Council (“Council”) whose main functions include the registration of allied health practitioners, determination of the appropriate qualifications of allied health professions and the regulation of practice, ethics and professional conduct of registered allied health practitioners. 

Who does the AHPA apply to? 

The AHPA generally applies to any activity or profession which has a direct or indirect effect on patient care and health. The Second Schedule to the AHPA provides a list of allied health professions to whom the AHPA applies, as follows:

  • Audiologist;
  • Dietitian;
  • Entomologist (Public Health);
  • Physiotherapist;
  • Medical Physicist;
  • Nutritionist;
  • Clinical Psychologist;
  • Clinical Scientist (Biochemist);
  • Clinical Scientist (Biomedical);
  • Clinical Scientist (Embryologist);
  • Clinical Scientist (Medical Geneticist);
  • Clinical Scientist (Microbiologist);
  • Occupational Therapist;
  • Speech-Language Therapist;
  • Radiation Therapist;
  • Diagnostic Radiographer;
  • Medical Laboratory Technologist;
  • Dental Technologist;
  • Environmental Health Officer;
  • Health Education Officer;
  • Food Service Officer (Healthcare);
  • Forensic Science Officer; and
  • Medical Social Officer. 

The aforesaid list may, on the recommendation of the Council, be extended from time to time by the Minister in charge. 

What should you do if you are an Allied Health Practitioner? 

The AHPA has made it compulsory for any person who practises as an allied health practitioner or carries out any activity related to allied health to be registered with the Council. A person may apply to be registered as an allied health practitioner if:

  1. he/she is a Malaysian citizen;  
  2. he/she holds any qualification as may be recognised by the Council;  
  3. he/she fulfils other prerequisite requirements as determined by the Council; and  
  4. he/she has not been convicted of an offence involving fraud, dishonesty or moral turpitude or an offence punishable with imprisonment for more than 2 years. 

The AHPA also provides for the registration as an expert by any registered practitioner who has attended a specialised training relating to his/her allied health profession in a recognised training institution, holds a recognised qualification issued by a recognised training institution and has proven to the satisfaction of the Council that he/she is a fit and proper person and is of good character. 

Transitional period

Any person who currently practises any allied health profession or carries out any activity relating to allied health must, within 12 months of coming into force of the AHPA, or any other period as may be extended by the Council, apply to be registered as an allied health practitioner. Pending determination of the said application, he may continue practising.  If the application is refused, he must cease to practise from the date of notification of such refusal.

Practising Certificate 

Upon registration, a registered practitioner who intends to practise shall apply for a practising certificate from the Council. A registered practitioner who practises without a practising certificate issued by the Council commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding RM50,000.00 or to imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or to both.

The AHPA also provides for the issuance of a temporary practising certificate with a validity period of one year to any non-Malaysian citizen who has been practising an allied health profession outside Malaysia and intends to practise in Malaysia if he fulfils the following qualifications: 

  1. he is in Malaysia for the exclusive purpose of teaching, conducting research or undergoing postgraduate study in such field of allied health in such institution as may be approved by the Council;
  2. he possesses expertise in such field of allied health which the Council considers necessary for the advancement of healthcare in Malaysia; or
  3. he has a contract of employment with the public service. 

Implications of non-registration

Any person who is not registered under the AHPA shall not:

  1. practise, carry on, operate or hold himself out as practising or carrying on or operating, or take up employment, as a registered practitioner;
  2. use the title “registered” to the respective allied health professions or use any title in any language which may reasonably be construed to imply that he is a registered practitioner;
  3. hold himself out as an expert if he is not registered as an expert under the AHPA;
  4. use or display any sign, card or other device representing or implying that he is a registered practitioner; or 
  5. be entitled to recover in any court, any fee, charge or remuneration for any professional advice or service rendered.

The AHPA also makes it an offence to hire any person who is not a registered practitioner under the AHPA to perform the duties and responsibilities of a practitioner of an allied health profession, such offence being punishable with a fine and/or imprisonment. 

Advertisement

The advertisements by all registered practitioners and persons engaging or employing registered practitioners shall also be in compliance with the requirements on advertisement under the AHPA. 

Disciplinary powers of the Council

The AHPA confers the Council with disciplinary authority over registered practitioners and the Council may impose orders of suspension, removal from the register and/or reprimand.

Conclusion

As the AHPA has come into force, every practitioner who falls within the AHPA should get himself registered and issued with a practising certificate accordingly in order to continue practising as an allied health practitioner in Malaysia. 

Date: 29th July 2020

Joyce Teh (Partner)
T: +603-2632 9882
E: [email protected]

Shaarenya Gurasekeran (Senior Associate)
T: +603-2632 9915
E: [email protected]

Cheong Jun Kid (Associate)
T: +603-2632 9931
E: [email protected]

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