AACMA rejects the suggestion that complementary medicine courses, including acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, should be axed from Australian universities, as pushed by lobby group Friends of Science in Medicine.
The new group, formed in December 2011 and made up of a number of doctors, medical researchers and scientists, is pressuring universities to ban complementary medicine degrees, which they dub as ‘quackery’ and ‘pseudo science’. The group is also campaigning for private health insurance providers to stop providing rebates for complementary medical treatments.
AACMA believes the group is on a witch hunt to divide the medical mainstream and complementary health disciplines and to strip complementary medicine of its credibility and standing amongst the 70% of Australians who currently use it.
AACMA supports Australian universities in offering acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine degrees.
AACMA CEO Judy James said higher education programs are necessary to ensure the development of well-trained practitioners to provide safe and competent healthcare services to the public, and to continue quality research and open academic and intellectual dialogue.
‘Increasingly, high quality evidence supports the efficacy and safety of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine for a range of common health conditions,’ Ms James said.
In a recent interview on Radio National, Friends of Science in Medicine co-founder Professor John Dwyer bundled together ‘healing touch therapies, energy medicine, iridology, homoeopathy’ as subjects ‘taught as science’ in universities.
Ms James said these claims are ridiculous and not based on the evidence as these methods are not taught at bachelor degree level in Australian universities.
Dwyer went on to use these claims to justify why bona fide practices and courses, like acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, should be banned from the universities.
Ms James said, in her opinion, Dwyer’s comments are misleading and misinform the public on these matters.
‘Also, claims that all complementary medicine courses have been or are being removed from UK university sector are nonsense and not based on the evidence. The University of Westminster, for example, are still offering their Chinese herbal medicine courses and we understand that the other courses in complementary medicine were closed due to low student numbers and not due to funding policy as alleged by the group.
‘Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have a long history of use as part of the mainstream health systems in China, Japan, Korea and other parts of South East Asia. The practices are well-established, and are based on a coherent and systematic body of knowledge, which is teachable and researchable.
‘Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine qualifications have been taught as a 4–5 year Bachelor Degree level in the Australian university sector for more than 16 years.
‘Furthermore, from 1 July 2012, the Chinese medicine profession has been scheduled for inclusion in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme for the Health Professions.
‘This will have the effect of greater protection of the public and improved standards of education and practice,’ she said.
Ms James said that a more constructive approach for the group would be to support the introduction of Codes of Conduct and negative licensing approaches followed in New South Wales and South Australia which provide mechanisms to deal with the more egregious conduct of unregistered health practitioners, of whatever persuasion, including de-registered doctors.
Julia Starkey | AACMA Publications & Promotions Administrator
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