ANTA Response to recent media reports on Complementary Medicines

Recent media reports have suggested that complementary medicines and supplements are ineffective.

The popularity of complementary medicines and supplements has never been greater in Australia and many Australians are voting with their feet and increasingly turning to natural therapies and complementary medicines as part of their health care.

Natural therapies and complementary medicine is thriving in Australia and brings many opportunities for greater personal choice in health care and in the growth of small and medium business. Natural health care professionals say the reason for this is that the public are generally satisfied with the treatments and therapies they receive because they are beneficial.

The status of the natural health industry is recognised and acknowledged internationally and the ideal of combining biomedicine with natural therapies and complementary medicine is now widespread in global health care thinking.

Many people have benefited from natural health care, leading to less dependence on conventional medicine solutions and a more effective spread of successful health care options.

Most importantly, because the nature of natural health care is holistic, factors such as lifestyle and nutrition are incorporated into the treatment and advice and an integrated approach with conventional medicine often means that hospital care is avoided for many conditions. This takes pressure off an already over burdened health system, where minor ailments can be successfully treated without the need for medical intervention or drugs.

Natural health care is widely acknowledged and is part of government accredited training and education which helps to ensure safety and quality. Government agencies and departments such as the Dept of Health and Ageing, Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency, Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency, Australian Skills Quality Authority, Therapeutic Goods Agency, Australian Securities and Investments Commission etc all have regulatory authority over the education, training and delivery of quality natural health care services in Australia.

The public want the best health advice and to protect the public’s safety and interests, ANTA has in place high quality education and training requirements for accrediting ANTA members. The public are assured their health and wellbeing is the focus and priority of all ANTA accredited members.

To support the continuous quality improvement approach adopted by governments, ANTA has lodged a submission with Federal and State Governments for the inclusion of naturopaths, nutritionists and western herbal medicine practitioners in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS).

Notwithstanding the unsubstantiated claims made by the members of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the Friends of Science (FoS) in media reports, it is incredible that these organisations would suggest that the above government agencies would acquiesce to anyone practicing or providing illegal, unsafe or unproven natural therapies or complementary medicines.

A review of complaints published by the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission shows that between 2012 and 2016 there were 8,864 complaints received relating to medical practitioners.

During the same period the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission received 35 complaints in total in relation to naturopaths, nutritionists, homeopaths and natural therapists.

These statistics in NSW and similar statistics published by the other States speak for themselves and it is ludicrous for the AMA and FoS to suggest there are serious problems with natural health care and complementary medicines.