At last the EU Commission responds to the issue of Complementary and Alternatived Medicine(CAM) and it growing use in the EU.
Nine years ago the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the area of non-conventional medicine; i.e. CAM. (ref: A4-0075/97 Resolution on the status of non-conventional medicines) One of the paragraphs of the resolution called on the Commission to carry out a thorough study into the safety, effectiveness, area of application and the complementary or alternative nature of all non-conventional medicines and to draw up a comparative study of the various national legal models to which non-conventional medical practitioners are subject;
Finally a report has been published which partly fulfills this resolution in that it contains a comparative study of the various legal models in EU and EEA Member States to which non-conventional practice is subject and looks at how CAM is reimbursed by the various national health insurance systems. Despite a considerable number of inaccuracies the report is a reasonable first formal attempt at mapping the situation for CAM in the EU and builds on the content of ECCH’s own report on the Legal Status for Homeopathic Practice in the EU.
An associated web-site (http://www.cam-cancer.org) containing a downloadable PDF copy of the report also contains two other sections. one on case studies of the use of CAM products and therapies in Cancer and another on Systematic Reviews of CAM research. Both these sections make significant references to the web-site of the NCCAM offices of the National Institutes of Health of the USA. The US Government has increasingly invested millions of dollars in researching the area of CAM in response to US citizens burgeoning use of CAM approaches in their healthcare.
ECCH welcomes this initiative in the form of a funded project under the ‘Quality of Life’ section of the EU’s 5th Framework Research Program as a first step by the EU and its member states recognizing the growing use of CAM by EU citizens. It is conservatively estimated that over 120 million EU citizens are currently using CAM as part of their healthcare provision. Clearly these citizens are expressing a desire for a broader and more integrated approach to their healthcare than that which is offered by the current disease focused conventional model.
CAM is the connection between the two areas of the prevention of disease and the treatment of disease in that the approach of most CAM disciplines is to do both simultaneously. Now the nettle of disease prevention is finally being grasped by the EU and its member states, the wider integration CAM approaches to healthcare together with conventional approaches should be the next one to grasp as a long term investment in the health of all EU citizens.