In today’s Sydney Morning Herald (News section p.9) there is a report that the Medical faculty at Sydney University will include Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in its curriculum.

 [Background Information: Sydney Uni was the first University in Australia.  Its medical faculty was the first medical school in Australia.  Sydney Uni is one of the group of universities referred to as the ‘sandstone universities’ – equivalent to America’s Ivy League they are often regarded as more prestigious than other uni’s: though not necessarily by the students who have studied at them.]

The plan is to include information on TCM so that doctors can speak intelligently to their patients who may be using alternative therapies.  They are not offering training in TCM as such.

However, the acceptance of ‘alternative’ health by the medical profession seems to be rapidly changing.  The same article reports research that 80% of GP’s have referred patients to meditation and 90% of GP’s have referred patients to acupuncturists.  Even twenty years ago this would have been unthinkable in Australia.

The uni faculty also plans to do clinical trials, in collaboration with others, on herbal medicine and ‘alternative’ therapies.  The professor of the faculty claimed that trials like this had not been done before because they were expensive.  Which seems to me to be nothing but a whitewash for prejudice.  ‘We don’t have any evidence that these things work’ is often the reason given.  Why is there no evidence?  Because there have been no studies done.  And so ‘responsibility’ is used as a cover for small minded prejudice.  As if the whole panoply of medical technology wasn’t horrendously expensive!  But still it is a very encouraging step forward.

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