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MACCAH report released

2 August 2004 Media Statement

MACCAH report released

A need for more research on complementary and alternative medicine is highlighted in a major report released today.

The report, the culmination of three years work by the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Complementary and Alternative Health (MACCAH), forms the committee's final advice to the Minister of Health, Annette King.

Ms King says complementary and alternative medicine is already widely used. "The 2002-2003 national health survey revealed that one in four people visited an alternative health practitioner the previous year. I am really pleased to receive this report, so I can now consider how best such practitioners can contribute further to New Zealand's health.

“The committee considers treatments proven to be safe, efficacious and cost effective should be publicly funded, and it also suggests better research infrastructure is needed to maximise benefits available from this area of care.”

Ms King says the report also highlights a need for more information on the safety and effectiveness of CAM, such as naturopathy, chiropractic, herbal medicine, acupuncture, osteopathy and homeopathy, services that are already widely used. "It is important that alternative treatment users can access unbiased and up-to-date information so they can make sound decisions about their health care."

She sees the Ministry of Health's complementary and alternative medicine website as a vital part of this. The website summarises existing research on the safety of various CAM treatments and how well they work.

Another key committee recommendation is to regulate practitioners of "high risk" treatments by law, while "lower risk" groups could be self-regulated through professional organizations, Ms King says. The committee also recommends that all CAM practitioners needed to meet basic levels of training in their discipline, regardless of their training in other forms of medicine.

"I am now giving careful consideration to the committee’s advice and have asked the Ministry to look at how the recommendations may be able to contribute to improving health outcomes," Ms King said. “The National Health Committee is also organising a CAM summit for late this year to allow mainstream and CAM sector representatives to discuss opportunities to work together in the future.

Background Information

What is the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Complementary and Alternative Health?

The committee known as MACCAH was established in June 2001 to provide independent advice to the Minister of Health on complementary and alternative medicine. It was funded to run until June 2004.

What did its work involve?

MACCAH released a discussion document in 2003, which formed the basis for nationwide consultation. It received more than 300 written submissions on the document. Its final advice covers issues of regulation, research, consumer information and the potential for integration with the mainstream health system.

Who were the MACCAH members?

There were eight members --- Professor Peggy Koopman-Boyden (Chair), currently acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Waikato University; Mr David Holden, founder and managing director of the OSIRIS group of natural healing companies; Dr Rhys Jones, senior lecturer at Auckland University's Department of Maori and Pacific Health; Dr Maika Kinahoi Veikune, manager of the Public Health Unit and project manager of Pacific Integrated Care at Middlemore Hospital; Ms Melva Martin, director and CEO of the Naturopathic College of New Zealand Ltd; Mr James McNeill, acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medicine practitioner; Ms Janine Randle, a paediatric nurse in a Christchurch hospital with a home-based massage therapy practice; and Ms Marilyn Wright, a school guidance counsellor in Napier.

Where can the final MACCAH advice document be obtained?

It is available on the MACCAH website: www.newhealth.govt.nz/maccah
or on the Ministry of Health website: www.moh.govt.nz
The Ministry of Health can also provide a hard copy of the report.

Is reliable information available about complementary and alternative treatments?

The Ministry of Health recently established a website presenting the evidence behind complementary and alternative medicine treatments. There is a link to the site from the Ministry's website: www.moh.govt.nz
or go directly to www.cam.org.nz


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