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MEPs discuss complementary and alternative therapies

17 Oct 2017

On 16 October, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) of the European Parliament organised a workshop to discuss ‘Complementary and alternative therapies for patients today and tomorrow’. The meeting was co-chaired by MEPs Mr Alojz Peterle and Ms Soledad Cabezon Ruiz, offering the opportunity for policy makers and stakeholders to enter into an active dialogue on a subject that is highly relevant for the health of all EU citizens.

The first part of the meeting discussed the current state of play of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies in Europe. Dr Ton Nicolai of EUROCAM gave an overview of CAM therapies in Europe and Dr Wolfgang Weidenhammer, co-ordinator of the CAMbrella project, presented the status of research on CAM across the EU. The second half of the meeting focused on policy and public health perspectives for traditional, complementary and alternative medicine. Speakers included Mrs Agnes Mathieu-Mendes (Deputy Head of Unit, Medical products: quality, safety, innovation, DG SANTE, European Commission), who presented the legal and policy framework of CAM in Europe, and Dr Stéphane Espinosa, consultant in the Traditional, Complementary and Integrative Medicine (TCI) Unit at World Health Organisation (WHO).

The presentations demonstrated that CAM is now used by one out of two EU citizens. Throughout the EU, people are seeking more natural and gentle methods of healing and increasingly favouring the provision of CAM within existing healthcare systems. There is a huge diversity in regulation across the EU with regards to who can practice CAM, what qualifications are required and how the services are offered and financed. Discussion focused on the benefits and limitations of CAM, the availability of these therapies and the current legal status and policies governing CAM provision in the EU.