On 19 January, the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA) published a notice in government gazette No. 41386, prohibiting “multilevel marketing, perverse incentives and franchising.”
The notice covers all allied health professions, including Ayurveda, Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, Chiropractic, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Osteopathy, Phytotherapy, Therapeutic Aromatherapy, Therapeutic Massage Therapy, Therapeutic Reflexology and Unani-Tibb.
Multilevel marketing according to the notice is understood be a strategy “to encourage a party to canvass or tout patients by paying the party a percentage of any fees, payment of commission or any remuneration, pecuniary or otherwise.” While perverse incentives per the notice mean but are not limited to the procurement of “some direct or indirect advantages, benefit, reward or payment for a person offering or giving the money, compensation, payment, reward or benefit.” And, franchising is defined as a form of business by which the owner of a product, service or method obtains distribution through affiliated dealers.
The notice is an attempt to tighten the regulation of the allied healthcare sector and discourage corrupt practices. The sector has seen the proliferation of supplementary and ‘downstream’ income practices by some allied healthcare professionals, as well as the infiltration of the sector by dishonest actors who utilise unethical techniques, including multilevel marketing, perverse incentives and franchising to profit from unsuspecting patients.