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Greens Want Approved Natural Practices Integrated

Approved natural health practitioners - such as registered acupuncturists, naturopaths, osteopaths and homeopaths - should become part of the public health system, the Green Party said today.

Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley said New Zealand needed to leave behind the narrow mindset that orthodox Western medicine was the only effective way of treating illness.

"We must recognise that there are other healing practices that may be equally effective in treating and preventing illness," Ms Kedgley said.

"With the cost of orthodox health-care soaring, we need to see whether there are complementary therapies that offer cheaper, more holistic or more effective treatments for particular illnesses."

A key objective of the Green Party in the next government was to support government registration for complementary therapists who met requirements for peer review, practice standards and adequate training, she said.

In the longer term, the Green Party would like to see local, community-based health clinics set up around the country where complementary health practitioners worked alongside general practitioners and physiotherapists, and consumers could choose whichever treatment was most effective, regardless of cost.

Ms Kedgley pointed out that traditional Chinese medicine had a history of over 2,000 years, and was rapidly expanding in New Zealand and throughout the world. It had been recognised by the World Health Organisation for more than 20 years as an effective way of treating more than 40 diseases, and increasing numbers of doctors and physiotherapists used it alongside orthodox medicine. Yet it was still not officially recognised through statutory registration.

"This is absurd when surveys show that up to 60% of New Zealanders use natural therapies and up to 70% of households use natural health products."

Traditional Chinese medicine was widely used overseas as an effective treatment for pain relief, infertility, back and gall bladder problems and other illnesses.

"We need to undertake trials in New Zealand to assess the cost/benefit and effectiveness of some of these treatments, and whether it would be sensible to integrate them into our public health system," Ms Kedgley said.

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