Public Health Funding Be Directed Towards Complementary Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

public health funding be directed towards complementary medicine?

Complementary Medicine

An Argumentative Essay

Complementary medicine describes the use of therapies and herbal medicines which are not commonly practiced by doctors. The term itself refers to getting a medical treatment by doctor and simultaneously getting such therapies so both treatments work together to improve the patient's health. Many of the therapies or herbal medicines have been a part of our lives but most of us do not know that they are under the umbrella term of complementary medicine. Another term is attached to complementary medicine and that is alternative medicine. Alternative medicine is when we use only these herbal medicine or therapies as a treatment instead of conventional medicine, which is commonly practiced by medical. With the increase in preference of complementary medicine and the requests for it to be used more regularly by patients, it is gradually replacing the term alternative medicine (Whorton, 1998). Many people have started choosing complementary medicine as treatment for their health problems instead of conventional medicine that the medical practitioners advice them to use.

Complementary medicine is shown to have proven results of curing many health problems that people face but it is said to be ethically wrong to provide such medicine. The reasons are that the efficacy of complementary medicine is doubtful since there is no proof of it. Such techniques and therapies mostly have not been tested on an appropriate sample before being distributed to people. There is no systematic recording of the active ingredients, and most herbal medicines are not even registered by law to be distributed. None the less the increase in the number of patients who use has been increasing which brings up the need to regularize the market for such medicine and regulation of such medicine all around the world has become a challenge (Alameddine. 2011). This has also caused physicians to fear for their patient's health as they are exposed to so many different appealing options to cure their ailments that the easy availability of such medicines might end up harming the patients if he is using them without taking consultation.

The field of complementary medicine is very vast as whatever is not legally a part of mainstream medicine ends up being a part of complementary medicine, which could be numerous numbers of therapies, ointments and capsules that are available. Looking at complementary medicine from this perspective makes it seem uncontrollable but this field is also further divided into two categories which are the systematic and unsystematic professions in the field. In the systematic profession would come the chiropractors who are registered by law to work in the field and those have also declared their specializations in this field so there is accountability of their practice. They have credibility as well due to the transparency present in their practice (Wharton, 1998).

On the other hand we have the unsystematic profession which includes aromatherapy, where there is no legal declaration of the practice as well as no proof of specialization since it is not practiced in the medical field (Whorton, 1998). The herbal medicines which are consumed by people commonly, such as homeopathic medicines are easily available as pharmacies but the pharmacists usually do not have any information about them. If questioned about the efficacy they may not be able to accurately state what these natural medicines contain and in what quantity (Kwan, 2008).

Even with the use of complementary medicine being a controversy, the use of such product is products are predicted to increase with time, even with the ethical issues attached to it. The use is increasing all around the world and it is raising important health and safety issues regarding the use (Clement, 2005).

Research Evidence and Importance of Autonomy and Beneficence

When we talk about public health funding of medicines, it is considered a very important issue as every citizen has healthcare needs. With the increase in diseases all around the world and decreasing immunity we all require healthcare needs to be fulfilled sometime in our life. Public health funding means gathering funds to fulfill our most, if not all, healthcare needs free of cost. The accountability of such funds is kept by public health financing, which is managed by either the state itself or by the not for profit organizations. Such organizations exist all over the world. One example of such an organization is the American Public Health Association in the U.S. which is a trust actively working for the American citizens, to meet their healthcare needs. Even with such organization being present in a large number, the amount of funds needed in order to fulfill the needs of all the people still remains greater. The number of diseases and health issues are increasing rapidly all around the world. New techniques and antidotes are being researched upon to counter such health issues and diseases in order to provide a safe and healthy environment for the citizens, but even these researches need adequate funds to operate. Plus there is a large percentage of people who cannot afford the medicines that they have been prescribed. These factors contribute to the fact that people need to be able to get good healthcare services without having to spend millions for it.

Funding complementary medicine through public health funding is a need being demanded for in many countries but because of the obvious ethical issues regarding their efficacy not being tested or stated, the government does not allow such funding. According to a survey conducted in 1993, every third American is a user of complementary medicine. With such massive number of users of the product the public health funds must be allocated for the financing of complementary medicine (Whorton, 1998).

There are several issues due to which public funding to complementary medicines is avoided. One of the major reasons contributing to this problem, as mentioned above, is that these medicines either have not been tested or do not have a proof of their efficacy. They have not been developed in a systematic way which might have analyzed the efficacy or the side effects of the drugs or therapies, and also acknowledged the exact dosage of the medicines. They do not come with complete information regarding them which always remains a health and safety issue for the user.

With an already existing need to funds to counter diseases and help disease prevention through vaccines, there are not enough funds left to be allocated to complementary medicine. There are many incidences which require public health funding which are not disease related such as earthquakes, hurricanes, being exposed to radioactive material and explosions that the citizens might be exposed to. These incidences require the effected people to have proper medically trained treatment related to any health problem they face. There is no margin of chance or of time to wait and see results. Such situations require prompt and accurate actions in order to save the victim's life. With the already limited availability of public health funds, it would be risky to divert funds to something which does not even define its efficacy accurately. A study was conducted in Taiwan on the use of Chinese medicines. Chinese medicines are the most popular complementary medicines in the world. In Chinese, and east Asian societies, Chinese medicine plays an active role in the modern health care system and is even covered by the National Health Insurance Program of Taiwan (Liao et al., 2012). The study concluded that Chinese medicines which have been used for generations were being used by many patients with liver cancer. The use of Chinese medicines was kept in frequent use during the study and it was observed that these medicines were not covered by their National health insurance, whereas conventional medicine was covered by their insurance plan (Liao et al., 2012). Concluding from the study it was said that while making health policies they should take into account that people use a much more significant amount of Chinese medicines. The use is indeed seen to be in a large number but the efficacy is also doubted when the consumption of complementary medicine is debated.

Another study was conducted where 78 men aged 25 to 50 years of age; suffering from mild to moderate erectile dysfunction, participated. The study was conducted to evaluate a multi-herb supplement for erectile dysfunction. The study followed the methodology of a controlled study which used placebos as well as the real herb supplement. The study showed that the herb supplement, known as VigRX Plus, was well tolerated and more effective than the placebo in improving the sexual function in men (Shah et al., 2012). The study proved complementary medicine is not a hoax but can actually show results. Taking the example of such studies we can see the effectiveness in complementary medicines is present but the unsystematic procedure to produce such medicines do not allow such medicines to be funded legally.

Legal Implications for funding Support

It has been seen that complementary medicine is also…

Sources Used in Document:


Alameddine, M, Naja, F, Abdel-Salam, S, Maalouf, S & Matta, C. (2011, August 28). Stakeholders' perspectives on the regulation and integration of complementary and alternative medicine products in Lebanon: a qualitative study. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2011, 11(71). doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-71.

Clement, Y.N., Williams, A.F., Khan, K, Bernard, T, Bhola, S, Fortune, M, Medupe, O, Nagee, K & Seaforth, C.E. (2005, November 18). A gap between acceptance and knowledge of herbal remedies by physicians: The need for educational intervention. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2005, 5(20). doi:10.1186/1472-6882-5-20

Kwan, D, Boon, H.S, Hirschkorn, K, Welsh, S, Jurgens, T, Eccott, L, Heschuk, S, Griener, G.G. & Cohen-Kohler, J.C. (2008, July 14). Exploring consumer and pharmacist views on the professional role of the pharmacist with respect to natural health products: a study of focus groups. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2008, 8(40). doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-40

Rhodes, P.J., Small, N, Ismail, H and Wright, J.P. (2008, March 20). The use of biomedicine, complementary and alternative medicine, and ethnomedicine for the treatment of epilepsy among people of South Asian origin in the UK. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2008, 8(7). doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-7.

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