THE NATURAL HEALTH CHARTER 2002
Because the public health system is in crisis
Because at the same time the right of citizens to make their own choices in natural healthcare, which can provide real alternatives to the present over-medicalised system, is being very seriously threatened
The Natural Health Charter calls on the incoming Irish government to:
- Commit itself to put Health Promotion and Maintenance at the very centre of its Health Care Strategy
- Give formal recognition to the right of citizens to freedom of choice in healthcare
- Give formal recognition to the special place that natural healthcare has in public health promotion and maintenance
- Show an encouraging attitude to natural healthcare by:
- Allocating responsibility for natural healthcare to a specific Junior Minister, with a corresponding section within the Department of Health and Children
- Establishing a Natural Healthcare Board or Authority to deal with all aspects of natural healthcare promotion and regulation
- Nurture and promote natural healthcare by:
- having a positive Government policy toward the incoming E.U. Food Supplements Directive based on the principle that citizens should have free access to all safe health supplement products
- giving urgent priority to drafting at national and E.U. levels management systems for traditional medicinal products based on clear definitions of them and systems of regulation which are appropriate to their nature
- Hold a Natural Healthcare Forum within three months of the start of the new government to give urgent impetus to these proposals
The future of Natural Health care is at risk.
Over half Irish adults use food supplements (vitamins, minerals, cod liver oil etc):
The European Food Supplements Directive 2002 is likely severely to restrict strengths in which food supplements may be taken, as well as forcing the withdrawal of large numbers of food supplements currently available in Ireland.
More and more Irish adults turn to traditional herbal medicines as the treatment of first choice for non-critical every day conditions:
Some of the most popular European herbal medicines (St Johns Wort, gingko biloba) are not available in Ireland.
Irish Medicines Board proposals for the regulation of traditional medicines (2001) and the draft European Herbal Medicines Directive (2002) are likely to impose on traditional medicines a system of regulation more suited to modern pharmaceuticals and the loss of many valuable products. These regulations could even be extended to many substances we customarily think of as foods.
Natural healthcare products are part of the intelligent lifestyle choices of hundreds of thousands of Irish adults. These include care with diet, health products, and the advice of alternative practitioners.
Current government policies seem to marginalize and control these choices instead of encouraging them and government departments often have conflicting policies toward them. These need replacing with a single, positive government department.
The public health system is in crisis
It is caught in spiralling costs arising in particular from:
- an ageing population
- higher expectations
There is consequently a very high level of public dissatisfaction with the system
The system is additionally burdened with:
- the effects of an unhealthy environment, food, and work practices
- inadequate public understanding of the steps needed for promotion of health
- demands on medical personnel for the provision of services for lesser, self-limiting conditions
- the overreliance on antibiotics and similar medications for treating these conditions, and the serious side-effects associated with some of these medications
- a healthcare system that is almost exclusively directed not to the promotion of health, but to the treatment of disease.
The Natural Health Charter believes a fundamental change of direction is needed, including:
- Health Promotion to be the central point of public health strategy, rather than the treatment of disease
- An attitude of self-help to be encouraged in minor, self-limiting conditions, and formal encouragement and recognition be given to the role of natural health care in this context.
Further information about The Natural Health Charter can be obtained from:
The Irish Association of Health Stores, Carrownalassan, FourMileHouse, Roscommon, 0903-29981