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The Swiss model

The Swiss model

The Feb. 14 Holistic View column said that one of the best ways to combat the swine flu is by having a strong immune system and that homeopathy can strengthen the immune system. This should not be taken to mean that homeopathy is an alternative to the flu shot; medical authorities say it is important to get vaccinated.  (Editor) 

In 2005, Swiss health authorities decided to eliminate alternative medicines from their national health insurance program. The people of Switzerland protested, and being a direct democracy, in 2009 a national referendum was held in which more than two-thirds of voters supported the inclusion of homeopathy and four other alternative medicines in Switzerland’s national health care insurance program. The field of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has thus become a part Switzerland’s constitution (Dacey, 2009; Rist, Schwabl, 2009). So, in 2012, all five complementary healing modalities – homeopathy, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, herbal medicine and holistic medicine – were included in basic compulsory insurance coverage as paid health services in Switzerland.

At the time, approximately half of the Swiss population were using CAM treatments and valued them, as well as about half of Swiss physicians considered CAM treatments to be effective.  This led the Swiss government to include homeopathy, and in December 2011 the Swiss government’s report on homeopathic medicine was published and affirmed that homeopathic treatment is both effective and cost-effective and that homeopathic treatment should be reimbursed by Switzerland’s national health insurance program. “Homeopathy in Healthcare: Effectiveness, Appropriateness, Safety, Costs’ by Gudrun Bornhöft and Peter F. Matthiessen (Editors). 2011”. This report has been translated into English and is available in book format.

It is our basic human right and freedom to choose, or refuse, whatever medical or alternative form of treatment we want for ourselves and our children.  My hope is that Canada will follow countries like Switzerland and have complementary and alternative medical practices and conventional medical professionals equally respected, working in conjunction with one another and covered under the same health care insurance program. When people are unwell, they are at their most vulnerable and it would be empowering for people to be supported in choosing what modalities they want for their health care needs, without experiencing financial restraint, conflict or prejudice.

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