Two out of three Australians use complementary medicine and their right to access is under threat. The Your Health Your Choice campaign is one response.
Practitioners and patients fed up with ongoing attacks on complementary medicine and natural therapies are uniting like never before as part of Australia’s largest ever natural medicine healthcare campaign.
Within three weeks of launching, www.yourhealthyourchoice.com.au had more than 10,000 people sign up and had created an online community engaging with more than 130,000 people.
Some of Australia’s most well-known faces and supporters of natural medicine have put their names to the campaign, including famous naturopath and herbalist, Ruth Sharkey, who was dubbed in the media Australia’s ‘baby maker’ [see her recent article, Where are the fertile fathers. Ed.].
“I have come out of retirement to support Your Health Your Choice. It is important that we have freedom of choice for our own medical care”, she said.
“I’ve helped over 5,000 little babies come in to this world. I was known as the ‘baby maker’ and all of those babies came in 100 percent healthy.”
Associations and organisations representing complementary medicine and natural therapies are also showing their support for the campaign, which is being managed by the Australian Homeopathic Association.
Homeopath and herbalist, Gerry Dendrinos, is spokesman for Your Health Your Choice. He is also the former Health Department worker who investigated the National Health and Medical Research Council’s conduct of the controversial homeopathy review, which is now part of an official complaint to the Commonwealth Ombudsman for bias, procedural and scientific flaws, unmanaged conflicts of interest, and inaccurate reporting.
Mr Dendrinos said Your Health Your Choice finally gave the two in three Australians who use complementary healthcare a voice to try to stop ongoing attacks on the healthcare they choose to use.
“We have calls for natural medicines to be banned from shelves; they want to scrap the Private Health Insurance Rebate; and the TGA no longer wants responsibility for safeguarding the quality of vitamins and minerals, aromatherapy and homeopathy; and that’s just the start.”
Mr Dendrinos said there are ‘flawed’ reports sitting with the Federal Government that wrongly declare that none of the 17 most commonly used natural therapies are effective.
“These deeply flawed reports are being inappropriately used to support calls for drastic changes that will impact and restrict consumer choice and result in increased costs to the healthcare system.”
Your Health Your Choice calls for a Senate Inquiry into bias against complementary medicine, specifically calling for an investigation into the National Health and Medical Research Council’s review of homeopathy that is being used to support drastic policy change.
Australian lawyer and partner at law firm Mills Oakley, Doctor Teresa Nicoletti, said consumers were right to feel their choice was under threat.
Dr Nicoletti said she had independently reviewed the NHMRC report and, in her opinion, it showed bias and serious administrative and scientific defects. That evidence is now part of the complaint that is before the Commonwealth Ombudsman.
“If you use naturopathy, herbal medicine, homeopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture, even yoga and massage to support your health then this affects you”, said Mr Dendrinos.
“A healthy democracy supports diversity of choice in healthcare, and Australians value this basic right. Once this right is restricted or removed it’s hard to get it back again”, he said.
Every Australian who joins Your Health Your Choice has a letter sent on their behalf to their local Federal MP calling for them to support a Senate Inquiry and right of choice in healthcare.
American filmmaker, Laurel Chiten, is using her documentary Just One Drop to help raise awareness of the campaign, and Aussie actress, Zoe Naylor, has been an ambassador.
Ms Sharkey said, “We must allow people to have the choice of what they give themselves, how they treat themselves. If they want to go to a doctor, fine. If they want to have natural remedies, fine. It must be freedom of choice.”
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