CAMbrella in the European Parliament



The interest and inquisitive was great at the CAMbrella workshop in the European Parliament November 28th, attended by MEP’s and officials from the European Commission. Under the motto “Paving the way towards European research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine” the CAMbrella group discussed the most challenging questions araising from CAMbrella face to face with the people actually working on regulation and health policy.

The workshop was opened and chaired by MEP Angelika Niebler, and CAMbrella project coordinator Wolfgang Weidenhammer gave an overlook over the projects scope and aims.

Other CAMbrella members focused on findings and challenges in the six Work Packages, the key words in several presentations being heterogeneity and lack of data. Achieving an overview of the use and prevalence of CAM in the 27 EU countries has been quite a challenge. “In our literature reviews we must conclude, that most of the studies are non-comparable, and in many countries there are no studies at all” said Professor Helle Johannessen, University of Southern Denmark.

When it comes to the legal situation, challenges and paradoxes involve both national and EU legislation and directives. Health policy and regulation is a national matter (subsidiarity), but medicinal products are regulated by the EU. “In particular, this constitutes a problem for Traditional Chinese Medicine. The CAM treatment as such is a national health issue – but the herbs included in the treatments are regulated by a EU directive” said Vinjar Fonnebo, University of Tromso, Norway.

MEP Ioannis Tsoukalas, Greece, draw the attention to the overall scientific perspective and the important role of CAM in this context. “The opposition against CAM within the medical establishment is similar to the institutional opposition in the 1920ties against quantum physics. If you get too involved, your career is in danger”, Tsoukalas said. “The scientific paradigm is being challenged, like in the 1920ties. This is why CAM is very important for the future”.

Text: Jesper Odde Madsen