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Is the UK lagging behind when it comes to supporting complementary medicine?

A new report from the World Health Organisation red flags that the UK is not doing enough to support complementary medicine, says the College of Medicine’s Chair Dr Michael Dixon.

The WHO global report on traditional and complementary medicine 2019 aims to ‘address the gap in reliable, credible and official data’ from Member States on traditional and complementary medicine, looking at more than two decades of statistics.

The World Health Organisation’s latest report on traditional and complementary medicine highlights the fact that the UK isn’t doing enough to support T&CM, says the College of Medicine Chair Dr Michael Dixon

“In an ideal world, traditional medicine would be an option offered by a well-functioning, people-centred health system that balances curative services with preventive care.”

Director General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

While Europe and the UK are deemed to be efficient when it comes to regulating T&CM, the lack of a dedicated national centre – which many other member states now have – shows there is still a long way to go before the UK becomes a world leader in traditional and complementary medicine, says Dr Dixon.

In the foreword to the report, Director General of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says: “In an ideal world, traditional medicine would be an option offered by a well-functioning, people-centred health system that balances curative services with preventive care.” 

Dr Dixon responded, saying: “Here in the UK, we cannot claim to be currently following the Director General’s ideals.

“While we’re good on regulation we face the paradox of most member states, who quote the lack of research data as the top challenge. The UK, unlike many other countries, has no national research institute for traditional and complementary medicine. 

“Nor indeed does the UK have a national programme for traditional and complementary medicine. It seems we are happy to regulate but are generally pretty unsupportive compared to a number of other nations.”