Alternative medicines draws fire

by Fran Metcalf ,  Courier Mail | 2008-06-21

AFTER decades of fighting for credibility within mainstream medicine, alternative health practitioners are once again in the firing line.

This latest salvo has been launched from Britain, where two recently released, hard-hitting books accuse the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) industry of quackery and trickery.

The attack comes at a time when, in Australia, more money than ever is being invested in CAM remedies.

In the 2006-2007 financial year, Medicare Australia paid out more than $23 million in rebates for patients who received acupuncture, chiropractic therapy and osteopathy.

While only a small number of people qualify for the rebates – those with chronic conditions and with complex care needs – the cost to the public purse could rise dramatically if CAM becomes part of mainstream medicine as forecast by some within the medical fraternity.

And at an international CAM congress staged in Sydney earlier this year, the Federal Government announced more than $7 million in grants for the creation of new centres and research projects across the country.
In Queensland, more than $660,000 was awarded to establishing a new clinic at the University of Queensland in a bid to integrate CAM with conventional medicine.

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