Osteopathy in Belgium

Osteopaths first established themselves in Belgium in 1975. They came out of British and French colleges. Now, there are many private schools in Belgium that train osteopaths and there is also a university course at the ULB (Free University of Belgium).

-          On 15 October 1997, a Round Table on non-conventional medicine was organized by Minister Colla. On 6 February 1998, the Council of Ministers adopted a draft law with a view to organizing the practice of non-conventional medicines. After numerous twists and turns, the draft was officially submitted by Minister Colla as No. 1714/1-97/98. The draft Colla law was adopted at the 22 April 1999 plenary session of the Senate, with 46 votes in favour and 12 abstentions.
But at the present time, the law has still not been implemented and representative committees have still not been formed! This, in spite of the fact that the Belgian state has recently been found to be at fault by the courts and will be compelled to apply the legislation.

-          On 1 January 1997, the socialist mutual insurance system of Ath began to reimburse osteopathic treatments. Following on this, mutual insurance systems progressively unified reimbursement of osteopathic treatments through complementary insurances.

-          In the year 2000, the GNRPO (National Group of Representatives of Osteopathic Professionals) was created, with the will to federate the osteopathic movement. The statutes of the GNRPO were ratified by the Moniteur Belge on 3 May 2005. It is composed of five recognized Professional Unions, and has the role of coordinating the profession as an umbrella organization. It works closely with the public authorities in order definitively to regulate the practice of osteopathy in Belgium, as a separate profession, with a high degree of responsibility (first rank care) and specific competences, with the goal of positioning osteopathy clearly in the medical landscape.

-          The International Faculty of Osteopathy, with its seat in Brussels, had its statutes legally recognized by Royal Decree and its name registered with the Moniteur Belge. This structure should allow the creation of training modules (essentially post-graduate), with the active collaboration of the most important European and American DOs, who meet in the Scientific Committee, and the support of the main osteopathic scientific and professional associations.

-          An Osteopathy Convention took place in Brussels on 26 October 2007. The gathering of professionals expressed their opinion on four fundamental questions:

         • Is osteopathy a profession of first intention (yes, 100%)

         • Is osteopathy a liberal profession (yes, 98%)

         • Is osteopathy a complementary profession in primary health care? (yes, 98%)

         • Does the future of osteopathy lie in university training (yes, 81% yes)

By virtue of the 24 September 2006 law on the protection of the professional title of intellectual professions, the GNRPO, with the support of the National Union of Liberal Professions of Belgium, submitted a request for the protection of the title to the Minister of Middle Classes. Two years ago, the upper council of self-employed persons and SMEs gave its opinion on the question and thus concluded the consultation phase required by the law. The Royal Decree, which was finalized more than a year ago, awaits adoption by the Council of Ministers. We have been waiting for a positive political decision on this law and its effective concretization in order for it to contribute to the protection of professionals and above all to the protection of patients, which would thus be given legal force. The text of the royal decree sets the standards for training, ethical obligations, and the scope of application of osteopathy.