HOW TO: practice lawfully alternative medicine?Alternative medicine aims to bring Man closer to Nature, which is the key to a healthy and harmonious life. We offer you a brief overview of the legal framework for alternative medicine in Bulgaria.

Generally, "alternative medicine" is any medical practice that is "not included in conventional medicine." The validity of its action has been revised in the Health Act and other by-laws.

Which practices are covered by the law?
• Use of non-medicinal products of organic origin - compounds of plant or animal origin that are not medicines.
• Use of non-medicinal products of mineral origin - compounds, but of inorganic origin, which again are not medicines.
• Use of non-traditional physical methods - ie. methods that physically or thermally affect the human body - such as massages or reiki.
• Homeopathy - a system of treatment of diseases with minimal doses of natural substances.
• Acupuncture - needles of a special shape are inserted at certain points in the human body in order to have a beneficial effect on health.
• Acupressure - at certain points in the human body, pressure is applied with the tips of the fingers to achieve a beneficial effect on health.
• Iris - In accordance with the changes in the iris, conclusions are drawn about the condition of the organs.
• Pulse rate - based on qualitative and quantitative indicators of the pulse, the state of the body is determined.
• Auricular examination methods - Conclusions regarding the condition of the organs are made according to the sensitivity of ear pain.
• Dietetics - Individuals who practice this method prescribe a diet that includes fruits, vegetables or other products of organic origin.
• Medicinal fasting - taking only water, juices or other liquids (for a period not exceeding 7 days).

Who has the right to practice?

With the exception of homeopathy, Bulgarian and nationals of a Member State of the European Union, the European Economic Area and Switzerland have the right to practice unconventional methods of treatment.
Requirements to be met by practitioners:
• Being mentally healthy - presenting a medical certificate prepared after a psychotest.
• Not convicted of a crime of general nature - by presenting a criminal record.
• Meet one of the following conditions:

1. hold a Master's Degree in Medicine, Dental Medicine or Pharmacy;
2. hold a degree of "specialist" or "bachelor" in the specialty "Health care";
3. hold a high school diploma and a certificate of successful completion of at least 4 semesters in a higher medical school.

Obligations of persons practicing unconventional methods:

• To exercise their activities in good faith - behavior that is contrary to the generally accepted ethical rules that determine how they should act in order to achieve the intended result.
• Do not allow the health of persons seeking their help to be harmed.
• Explain to the persons seeking their assistance in detail and in an accessible language what non-conventional method they will apply and the expected result thereof.
• Obtain the explicit written consent of the persons seeking their assistance to apply the appropriate method.
• To not mislead those who have sought their help, including with regard to their ability to influence their health through the unconventional method practiced.
It is important to note that all forms of advertising of unconventional methods are prohibited, including their affiliation with prevention, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation activities.
Procedure for registration of persons practicing unconventional methods
Where and how to register? In the Regional Health Inspectorate, by submitting an application, accompanied by documents certifying the requirements for the legality of their activity.
What should the application include? The application shall indicate the non-conventional methods and means that the person will practice. In case of incompleteness of the submitted documents or non-compliance with the registration requirements, the Director of the Regional Health Inspectorate shall notify the person in writing within two weeks and set a term for their elimination. If the documents are valid - a certificate of registration is issued, if not - the director of the regional health inspection makes a reasoned refusal to issue it, which is subject to appeal in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Code. The registration fee is subject to a fee determined by a tariff approved by the Council of Ministers.

Obligation to register
The Regional Health Inspectorate shall establish and maintain a Register of persons who practice unconventional methods. Registered persons are obliged to notify the respective regional health inspection (by notification) of any changes to the registration of unconventional practice within 7 days after their occurrence. The application and the notification can be submitted electronically, signed electronically.
Registration shall be deleted in several ways: at the request of the person who registered the unconventional practice, upon his / her death / prohibition; when the submission of incorrect data in the documents is established or there are adverse effects on human health as a result of the methods used.

Obligation to enter data in the Book of Visits
Any person practicing non-conventional methods is required to enter in the Visits Book the following information for each person seeking his assistance:
• date of each visit;
• serial number of each visit;
• three names, a unique civilian number and permanent address;
• complaints reported during the visit;
• Unconventional activities performed.
The visitation book is stamped and registered by the regional health inspection that completed the registration. Persons practicing non-conventional methods are obliged to keep it for 10 years after its completion and to make it available on request to the inspection bodies.

According to Ordinance No. 7 of 2005 on the requirements for the activity of persons who practice unconventional methods for beneficial effects on individual health, persons who practice unconventional methods and have no recognized medical capacity, are not allowed to prescribe medicines and apply methods of diagnostics and treatment requiring medical qualifications.
Practicing unconventional (alternative) methods.

The aforementioned Ordinance introduces rules regarding the requirements for the use of alternative methods. Here are some of them:
This type of method can be implemented in premises that form separate parts of residential or public buildings, or in rooms in separate buildings. The premises can only be located on the first floor (ground floor) or above. The walls should be smooth, the floor should also be smooth (without joints) to allow wet cleaning and disinfection. The work area should be a minimum area of 12 square meters and should be directly connected to the waiting room. It must be provided with a sink with running hot and cold water. They must have natural and artificial lighting, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, water supply for drinking and domestic purposes and sewage. Noise and vibration levels must meet the health requirements for residential buildings. The premises cannot be used at the same time for activities and needs other than the unconventional method of beneficial effects on individual health
Control over compliance with the health requirements for the premises is exercised by Regional Inspectorate for the Preservation and Control of Public Health (RIPCPH). If you carry out your activity outdoors or the room in which you practice it does not meet the health requirements, the registration can be deleted by the director of the Regional Center for Health at the proposal of the director of RIPCPH. This is done by an order that goes to appeal.

If you have any further questions or need assistance, feel free to contact us through the contact form.

Greta Stoyanova

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