EFCAM is a federation of European CAM associations

logos EPHA, CAM conf & EU Commission

Investing in Complementary & Alternative Medicine:
Innovation and Added Value and saving for European Healthcare

European Parliament, Brussels, 9 October 2012

Members of the European Parliament, health professionals, patients and policy makers gathered to hear and debate presentations on the innovative added value of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for European Healthcare.

Across Europe at least 25% of the population use CAM, largely paying for it out of their own pocket. Despite clear citizen use and demand, CAM has not received a proper consideration by the European institutions, despite a call to do so from the European Parliament as far back as 1997.

The Conference concluded that the potential that CAM has to maintain health, prevent ill-health, promote healthier lifestyles and contribute to the sustainability of health systems should not be disregarded by the European Union at a time when health funding is under so much pressure from economic and demographic pressures.

The event was hosted by MEP Elena Oana Antonescu (Romania) and co-hosted by MEPs Sirpa Pietikäinen  (Finland) and Alojz Peterle (Slovenia).

Elena Oana Antonescu Member of the European Parliament and host of the event: “The fact that more and more Europeans live longer requires the adaptation of entire healthcare systems. I believe that complementary and alternative medicine can help promote a healthier and more environmentally aware lifestyle, with significant benefits to personal and societal health. Complementary and alternative medicine has the capacity to change the medical treatment philosophy, by adopting a more holistic outlook on illness and its effects.”

Sirpa Pietikainen, Member of the European Parliament and co-host of the event: “There is a growing demand for CAM therapies in Europe. We as European legislators need to facilitate safe accessibility to these therapies by providing a functioning, legal framework. The next EU Health Strategy needs to set a clear and enhanced role for CAM therapies with a view to European level regulation to be established in the future.”

Alojz Peterle Member of the European Parliament and co-host of the event: “CAM is a reality. Research has shown that millions of patients use CAM when diagnosed with different diseases. On the other side, we see how different its legal status is in the Member States which is considered by patients as a kind of discrimination against them. Not much has been done so far at the EU level. I plead for a higher level of attention in this regard and call on the Commission to start a new initiative, in cooperation with the stakeholders concerned.”

Helle Johannessen, Professor of Social Studies in Health and Medicine, Institute of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark: “Up to 80% of citizens in the EU Member States have used complementary and Alternative Medicines in their health care. Their hope is to get relief from concerns that the conventional medical services do not meet and to improve general well being. And yet, access to CAM, with rare exceptions is limited to those who can afford to pay for it.”

Andrew Long, Professor of Health Systems Research, University of Leeds, United Kingdom: “Equitable access to healthcare, including CAM, and the sustainability of health services requires a shift towards health promotion and prevention of illness. CAM has the potential to support strategies to increase critical health literacy amongst EU citizens in collaboration with conventional medicine.”

The Conference concluded by outlining how CAM can fit into the Health for Growth Programme and the economic and innovation priorities of the European Union.

Harald Walach, Professor of Research Methodology and Complementary Medicine, European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany: “The growth potential of the sector, both in terms of GDP, savings on healthcare, healthier citizens, CAM workforce and innovative competitiveness is enormous. For this to happen, we need the EU to give it its due consideration and adequate resources, as well as a framework for professionals to operate in.”

Enid Segall on behalf of EUROCAM, one of the organisers: “We are very grateful to the European Parliament for having hosted this landmark Conference, and to the Commission for having part funded it.  The EU faces a serious economic crisis that puts its Member States’ healthcare systems at risk and requires them to fundamentally reform. The impact of increased life expectancy, the alarming rise in chronic diseases, growing health inequalities and shortages in health workforces are over straining health care services in a way unseen before. We believe that investing in a CAM Innovation Partnership will support reforming health systems to focus primarily on prevention and complement conventional care in a way that benefits healthcare systems and people across Europe.”