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Scientific Evidence Needed - NZMA

While the New Zealand Medical Association welcomes the appointment of two doctors to the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Complementary and Alternative Health, it believes the committee does not have enough medical input.

"The NZMA is disappointed at the absence on the committee of a consultant physician, such as the experienced senior practitioner that we nominated," said NZMA Chairman Dr John Adams. Among other tasks, the committee will provide advice on integrating alternative health practitioners into the mainstream health system.

"The NZMA believes it is vital that alternative treatments are subject to the same evidence-based scientific testing that conventional medicines face," Dr Adams said. "If this does not happen, those promoting alternative treatments should not make unproven claims about their efficacy.

"With the possibility of alternative health practitioners coming into the mainstream health system, for the safety and health of New Zealanders it is absolutely critical that their therapies are proven.

"We hear daily of financial constraints in the heath system. We must therefore seek to maximise benefit from the dollars we do have. "Some of our members have expressed concern that this committee has been set up as a vehicle to advocate on behalf of complementary therapies, without taking scientific evidence into account. We hope that this will not be the case," Dr Adams said. The NZMA will take a close interest in the performance of the committee.

As well as their medical input, committee members Drs Rhys Jones and Debbie Ryan will bring valuable Maori and Pacific Islands perspectives to the committee.


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