A European CAM centre is needed



Compared to North America, Asia and Australia, Europe lags behind in its approach to CAM, and a centralized and coordinated effort to enhance the knowledge about this field is urgently needed.

“If CAM is to be employed as part of the solution to the health care challenges we face in 2020, it is vital to obtain reliable information on its cost, safety and effectiveness in real world settings” project co-ordinator Dr Wolfgang Weidenhammer said at the CAMbrella conference in Brussels, November 29th.

CAMbrella recommends a European research approach, facilitated by a European Centre for CAM. This is one of the core conclusions by CAMbrella researchers, based on the development of a CAM research “roadmap”. “CAMbrella’s vision is for an evidence base which enables European citizens and policy makers to make informed decisions about CAM” Prof. Dr. Benno Brinkhaus, leader of the roadmap workpackage, said.

Keynote speaker, Prof. Dr. Jarle Aarbacke, rector of University of Tromsø, Norway, underlined the diversity of CAM. “CAM has many faces, from folk medicine, traditional herbal remedies and hands on procedures, to modern techniques like for instance Laser Acupuncture or Hyperthermia – the range is huge. One of the few common features in CAM is that we know very little about it because it usually is not part of the medicine we teach and learn in European universities. It is time to take this medicine into account and look into it thoroughly. It is there anyway so we better try to know more about it” Aarbacke said.

Austrian journalist and cancer patient Kurt Langbein underlined that the patients´ approach to CAM is not a philosophical, but a pragmatic one: “Patients look for professionals whom they can trust in their efforts to come to terms with their illness. Trust needs more than the perfect chemo or the impeccable surgery and it needs more than being a nice person. It needs expertise in methods and procedures that enable the patient to meet his own challenges and it needs people who are not afraid of patients. Much of the medicine we encounter is afraid of the patients as persons” Langbein said.

The findings of CAMbrella were communicated to 150 participants, representing policy makers, academics and organizations. The conference took place in the beautiful surroundings of the EU Representation of the Free State of Bavaria.

Text: Jesper Odde Madsen