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Membership helps support the Mission Statement of the World Naturopathic Federation

WNF Response to PAHO Document

World Naturopathic Federation response to the PAHO Draft Declaration Toward Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals

Preamble

The World Naturopathic Federation supports the overall goals and intentions of the PAHO Draft Declaration Towards Universal Health Coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals, yet we would like to see more of a focus on the essential role that Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) will play in achieving these goals.

The last forty years have highlighted the need for a greater focus on Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) in solving the current health care challenges and goals. Factors that have increased the need of T&CM include the introduction of the Internet which as resulted in people being more aware of their health and their options, the growing concern with overmedication, the concern with antimicrobial resistance, the increased awareness of the link between lifestyle and environmental factors contributing to chronic diseases, the growing recognition of the link between the psychological and physical health, the growing concern with the environment and the health of the planet. There have been two significant outcomes for T&CM in these changes: firstly, people are seeking T&CM services and products at an increasing rate every year; and secondly, the philosophy and principles of T&CM are being sought as an approach to health and healing. With person–centered health care as the optimum goal, naturopathic practice is ideally suited for this,with its focus on the whole person and on identifying and treating the causes of the disease (versus disease itself) and its ability to address the impact on the emotional, functional and structural aspects of a person.

T&CM, especially naturopathy, excels at the management of chronic disease. This is particularly the case with the strong link between awareness of chronic disease and lifestyle and environmental factors.

Primary health care is essential to achieving Universal Health Coverage and Sustainable Development Goals

The WNF agrees that sustainable primary health care requires intersectoral action. We encourage the document to include the sustainability of traditional and complementary systems of medicine (T&CM) that have been practiced for centuries. T&CM practices have always focused on prevention and teaching people how to live a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent chronic diseases.  Many of the principles of T&CM practices are now central to the focus of health and disease – the correlation between mental and physical health, the importance of a healthy lifestyle, the impact of environment on health, the importance of a balanced lifestyle, etc.  Research also shows that T&CM is a cost-effective approach to health care. Consequently, people are seeking out and demanding T&CM services as part of their health regimen. Ensuring that there is a focus on strengthening and increasing intra-professional collaboration and regulation of T&CM is an essential aspect of Universal Health Coverage Sustainability.

Primary health care is essential to improve health

Health is not merely the absence of disease. Achieving health involves addressing both the determinants of health and the causal factors of disease. Chronic disease is a significant concern and is strongly associated with lifestyle and environmental factors.  The naturopathic profession emphasizes addressing the true causes of disease, and on teaching healthy living/lifestyle awareness and self-responsibility.

Primary health care is essential to the success of and sustainability of health systems:

We support the statement that health systems based on primary health care provide better population andindividual health. Primary health care and the sustainability of health systems will need to include a respectful focus on intra-professional collaboration, respecting the unique philosophies and practice methods. Each system of medicine (conventional and the individual T&CM systems) offer a unique perspective on health and healing.  The focus of T&CM generally, and naturopathic specifically is on teaching how to prevent disease and the importance of healthy lifestyles in treating chronic disease.  Treatment offerings within T&CM are an important step in reducing overmedication by supporting the natural healing ability of the body.

Governments:

The WNF supports regulation and intra-professional collaboration. We support the need for all health professionals to be well trained and to provide safe and effective care to the public. We encourage governments to put a greater focus on regulation of T&CM, but we suggest that the regulation focus on systems of medicine to ensure that the foundational philosophy, principles and theories are maintained as well as the educational standards that include the assessment, diagnosis and treatment approach for each T&CM. As compared with the regulation of modalities that tends to focus on the application of a specific treatment (such as acupuncture, herbalism, homeopathy, etc) without the education on the principles, theories and assessment approach for each.  When systems of medicine (naturopathic, TCM, Ayurveda, homeopathy, etc.) are regulated as systems of medicine versus modalities then there is a greater focus on ensuring a strong foundational basis, the codifying and conservation of historical knowledge and high educational standards.

Respectful Intra-professional collaboration is essential to addressing the current needs of society and the demands of the public. Intra-professional collaboration requires governments to allow for collaboration through regulation, but must also protect the integrity of every system of medicine.

People, including civil society:

People have a right to safe and effective healthcare.  They also have a right to the healthcare of their choice and to treatment offerings that match their beliefs and their way of life.  Respecting the interests of people, including civil society is paramount.

The international community, including UN organizations, funding agencies and donors:

All systems of medicine must continually engage in research and must be active within the international community. We encourage the WHO, UNICEF and other UN agencies, bilateral and multilateral funding agencies and donors to support the ongoing research and development of all aspects of T&CM. We encourage and suggest that there be a greater focus of research funds spend on the prevention of disease and the promotion of the link between lifestyle and environmental factors and chronic disease. Funding programs which focus on teaching people how to maintain health and how to prevent disease will dramatically decrease the need for future funds in the treatment of disease.

General comments on the Declaration

We support a clear focus on respectful intra-professional collaboration with recognition of providing primary healthcare based on people centered desires and needs.

The WNF considers our commitment to primary health care and universal health coverage is as follows:

The WNF will continue to work with member organizations in supporting regulatory efforts, improving educational standards and encouraging naturopathic research.

Naturopathic professions have always provided information on disease prevention with healthy lifestyle approaches for the public. We will continue to encourage this with our member organizations.

Our current efforts to promote intra-professional collaboration include a survey, setting policy guidelines and attending conferences.

Link for the draft document: http://www.who.int/primary-health/conference-phc/DRAFT-Declaration–9-April-2018.pdf

Link for response: https://extranet.who.int/dataform/252115?lang=en