Chiropractic South Africa

Chiropractic South Africa covers some of the history of the profession.

Modern Chiropractic was founded in 1895 by an American Daniel D. Palmer. Chiropractic South Africa became a reality within approximately twenty-five years - the first chiropractors set up practice in South Africa in the early 1920's. The first Chiropractic Association of South Africa was established in 1939 by twin brothers Ivan and Alan Payne. Dr Ivan Payne is still alive today.

The majestic table mountain welcomes visitors to one of south africa's capital cities, Cape town

Chiropractic Register closed

In 1971 a Chiropractic South Africa bill was promulgated in parliament that closed the register to any new Chiropractors and Chiropractic students, effectively ending any growth that there could have been in the profession. The register was only reopened fourteen years later in 1985.

In the interim a few brave souls, known as 'ghosts' practised outside the law.

Chiropractic South Africa has always held that in the interests of the health of our nation it was better to foster good relations with all other health disciplines, and especially that of the medical profession. To this end a meeting was arranged with the S A Medical and Dental Council on the 6th March 1981. A certain amount of interest was displayed in our profession and a further meeting with more health interest groups as well as representatives of the medical profession was arranged by the Minister of Health on the 10th August 1981 in Cape Town.

At this meeting a substantial amount of evidence was presented in support of Chiropractic as well as a most commendable testimony from Dr Andries Kleynhans who flew out from Australia for this occasion. The meeting was considered to be highly successful. The SAMDC being the advisory body to the Department of Health were now set the task of advising the Minister as to the merits and possible inclusion of Chiropractic under the health disciplines of our country.

In November of 1981 Chiropratic South Africa learned to its total dismay that the SAMDC had voted by 17 votes to 16 against the inclusion of Chiropractic. They rejected Chiropractic as being unscientific and having no place whatsoever within the realm of "medicine". To this very day they still have not submitted any reply to our afore mentioned Memorandum. A recent letter from the Secretary-General of the Medical Association simply indicated that he was "not at liberty" to avail us of copies of their reply.

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    Associated Health Professions Service Board

    Other professions such as Homeopathy, Osteopathy, and Naturopathy also sought legal recognition alongside Chiropractic South Africa. The Minister of Health, Dr L A P A Munnik realised that control over these various professions was necessary and after due deliberation proposed a Statutory Board virtually identical in power to the Medical Council. This AHPB would exercise strict control over the various health disciplines not covered under the Medical and Dental Act of 1928 and would also act as an advisory body to the Minister of Health. The Medical Council and Medical Association were up in arms about this move but were unable to prevent the successful passage of the Associated Health professions Act, Act 63 of 1982, through Parliament. Chiropractic had now gained statutory recognition.

    The AHPSB Board met for the first time in Pretoria on the 9th of August 1982. The members of the Board appointed by the Minister of Health constituted two Medical Practitioners, one Advocate and Professor of Law, one Educationist, one Osteopath, one Naturopath, three Homeopaths, and five Doctors of Chiropractic. The chiropractors being Drs Reg Engelbrecht and Chris Diedericks (Palmer), Drs Glynn Till and Mario Milani (Lincoln), and Dr Brian Peters (CMCC).

    This AHSP Board now effectively controlled all matters relating to the various "non-medical" disciplines and has been instrument in liaison with the Chiropractic Association of South Africa in passing further legislation regarding ethical and professional conduct. During 1982 a small delegation of the Board was sent to Europe and to the United States to investigate the various training facilities available to students of chiropractic and the other disciplines. They were also to assess the different standards of education as well as the entrance requirements of the various institutions.

    In August of 1982 a new Minister of Health was appointed. This man, Dr Nak van der Merwe, was also the Member of Parliament for the constituency in which the President of the Chiropractic Association, Dr Reg Engelbrecht, was resident. Needless to say our President immediately requested an interview with the new Minister who promptly responded by paying a personal visit to the consulting rooms of Dr Engelbrecht.

    This was surely a historic first for Chiropractic South Africa and we firmly believe that during that specific interview, where many crucial questions were asked, answered, and pondered upon and where on the spot evidence concerning our profession was available, tremendous strides were made towards the ultimate re-opening of the Chiropractic Register.

    The AHSP Board and the Council of Chiropractic South Africa (CASA) continued in their drive for re-opening the register and several further meetings were held with Dr Nak van der Merwe. We stressed that the re-opening of the register was long overdue and that our profession had complied in absolutely every aspect of the tasks it was set by the previous Minister of Health. Dr van der Merwe agreed that we had acquitted ourselves most admirably of our tasks and assured our president that everything possible would be done to present a bill calling for the registration of new chiropractors during the current parliamentary session. Enthused by this encouraging news the CASA set about compiling as much documentation and evidence as possible and accordingly submitted this information to a great number of parliamentarians. Wherever possible personal contact was made with key figures in Parliament. Our hopes were dashed when we learned of the death of Dr Nak van der Merwe on the 24th April, 1985. A true and personal friend had been lost and the likelihood of the Amendment Bill still being presented during the current parliamentary session rapidly faded.

    The Chiropractic South Africa president (Dr Reg Engelbrecht) as well as the AHSP chairman (Dr Mario Milani) and other delegates travelled to Cape Town on several occasions where they presented further evidence to the Standing Committee on Health matters and also held meetings with certain key figures. These efforts encouraged and supported Dr LAPA Munnik (re-appointed Minister of Health) in his determination to now have our Bill finally approved in Parliament.

    Register reopened

    On Friday evening the 7th June, 1985 we learned that our Bill had been approved in Parliament with very little opposition. The struggle was over!

    The Associated Health Service Professions Amendment Act, as this new legislation was known, is possibly one of the finest pieces of Chiropractic legislation in the world today. We have endured a long and difficult struggle about which many more tales of deceit, frustration and broken promises could be told. We have learned much in the process and are now determined to present and maintain an absolutely superior image of Chiropractic South Africa. Our house is in order and we aim to keep it that way!!

    This Act made provision for the registration of new Doctors of Chiropractic who were duly qualified as per the standards set by the AHSP Board Chiropractic. Students of chiropractic were also required to register with this Board.


    CASA has assisted in establishing the training standards which by some persons may be considered to be too high. We are however of the opinion that to lower our standards would be to lower the image and respect for our profession which we have gained.

    Chiropractic South Africa now face a new era and need to firmly establish our positioning in the Scientific and Health community. Continuing Education remains the responsibility of the Chiropractic Association and by steadily improving our knowledge and understanding of our profession, and by reasoning rationally we can prove beyond any doubt that Doctors of Chiropractic are indeed an integral part of the total Health Team.

    The first Chiropractic Faculty was established at the Durban Institute (now University) of Technology in 1983. A few years later, the University of Johannesburg faculty was established and South Africa has since produced many excellent graduates. National accreditation of the course presented at both institutions was achieved in 2008 and international accreditation has been achieved by the course at Durban University of Technology (DUT).


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