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    Basant Deerpaul

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    Promoting Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for an Integrated Approach in the Health sector

    Research is continuously being conducted to improve standard medical care. New drugs and more efficient procedures are constantly being developed to save lives of millions of people across the world. For instance, Cancer Research UK, a leading organization in UK involved in research, funding and policy decision, includes Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) in their approach to treat cancer patients. The inclusion of CAM could save and improve the health of many Mauritians. One of the emerging complementary therapies is Pranic Healing which is a ‘no-touch’ healing and scientifically proven technique as explained below.

    Problem Statement: High level of mortality due to diseases
    The statistics for health in Mauritius are not ‘healthy’ as the number of deaths and in-patients due to different types of diseases are high.
    According the Health Statistics Report 2016 for Mauritius, the main underlying causes of mortality in 2016 were Heart Diseases with 1,934 (19.5%) and Diabetes with 2,329 (23.5%) deaths respectively. In the third, fourth and fifth positions were Cancer and other Neoplasm with 1,265 (12.8%), Cerebrovascular diseases with 993 (10%) and Respiratory system diseases with 882 (8.9%) deaths. Hypertensive diseases were on the sixth position with 509 (5.1%) deaths.
    In addition, about 77 persons died due to mental and behavioural disorders, 98 committed suicide and 164 deaths were associated with nervous system diseases. These figures are also an indication that something more should be done to help those suffering from stress and depression.
    Furthermore, the Government spends huge amount of money in the health sector. According to Government Information Service (2016), around Rs 2.2 billion per year are disbursed for the treatment of diabetes and its complications.

    Possible Solutions: An Integrated Approach: Standard Medicine and CAM
    Standard medical care is referred to “medicine practiced by health professionals” such as medical doctor (M.D), physical therapists, physician assistants and psychologists and registered nurses. (Source: Cancer.gov)
    CAM consists of complementary and alternative medicines or therapies. The difference between complementary and alternative therapies is as follows. Complementary Therapies, as per Cancer Research UK, “are used alongside conventional medical treatments prescribed by your doctor. Examples of complementary therapies are aromatherapy, acupuncture, Chinese medical treatment, herbal medicine, massage therapy, visualization and yoga, amongst others.
    On the other hand, alternative therapies or medicine are treatments that are used instead of standard medical treatments. One example, as stated by Cancer.gov, is “using a special diet to treat cancer instead of anticancer drugs that are prescribed by an oncologist.” (www.cancer.gov)
    Integrative medicine is a total approach to medical care that combines standard medicine with the CAM practices that have been shown to be safe and effective. They treat the patient’s mind, body, and spirit.

    CAM in Canada
    In 2016, the Fraser Institute conducted a national survey in Canada to determine the prevalence, costs, and patterns of complementary and alternative medicine.
    Fraser Institute is “the top think-tank in Canada for the tenth straight year”. Its mission is “to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families, and future generations by studying, measuring, and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship, and choice on their well-being.”
    The main results, amongst others, of the Canadian national survey showed that “More than three-quarters of Canadians (79%) had used at least one complementary or alternative therapy sometime in their lives in 2016”. (source: http://www.fraserinstitute.org)

    A Complementary Therapy: Pranic Healing (External Medical Chi Kung)
    A study on the effects of Pranic Healing (PH), as a complementary therapy to improve lung function, physiological condition and quality of life of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients was carried out (Australasian Medical Journal, August 2017). The results have revealed that PH as an adjunct to conventional treatment can improve lung function and quality of life of COPD subjects.
    Another study which explores the efficacy of Pranic Healing (PH), as an adjuvant therapy in treating depression showed that PH is effective in easing mild and moderate depression when used with medications (Australasian Psychiatry, 2018).

    Possible Solutions to improve Health Treatments in Mauritius
    • Encourage research by funding projects related to CAM including different healing modalities such as Pranic Healing (also known as Chinese External Chi Kung);
    • Support healing modalities such as Pranic Healing on a pilot basis;
    • Promote Complementary and Alternative Medicine or Therapies (CAM) across the country as a preventive measure; and
    • Adopt an Integrated Approach or Integrated Medicine to treat the main causes of deaths due to diseases .

    Possible Outcomes
    • Reduction in number of deaths associated different types of diseases;
    • Reduction in the number of in-patients admitted in hospital;
    • Reduction in Government Expenditure in Health sector;
    • Healthy population is equal to better standard of living;
    • Job creation in CAM sector;
    • Economic growth as the CAM sector emerges and establishes itself as an important revenue generating and contributor to the economy.

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