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Bahrain plans new rules for alternative medicines

Manama, October 11, 2010

New rules are being drawn up to stop alternative medicine getting 'out of hand' in Bahrain and other GCC countries, it was revealed.

The guidelines, which are intended to check the 'rampant and unrestricted growth' of such facilities, were discussed during a meeting of representatives of GCC health ministers at the Elite Grand Hotel, Seef.

It follows concerns that people were shunning medical treatment in favour of alternative therapies.

'An expert committee that was set up in 2008 had recommended unified guidelines for such centres in the GCC, rather than every country having its own,' said Health Ministry Public Health and Primary Care Assistant Under-Secretary Dr Mariam Al Jalahma.

'This was done to try and bring to an end the rampant and unrestricted growth of such places that people were flocking to.'

Dr Al Jalahma said Bahrain had taken a lead in educating people that alternative medicine should only be used to complement regular treatment, not as an alternative to it.

'We have had several cases where people started taking other (alternative) medications and resorted to stopping the use of regular medications and that led to problems,' she said.

'As a result, we felt the practice of alternative medicine was getting out of hand and we felt the need to curb it.'

She said the idea was not to prevent, but regulate the use of alternative therapies.

'We are now in the process of finalising the setting up of licensing procedures, penalties for violations and criteria to be followed by alternative medicine practitioners,' added Dr Al Jalahma.

'We are also co-ordinating with the National Health Regulatory Authority in setting up these procedures.'

Health Ministry head of licensing Dr Tawfeeq Naseeb said Bahrain had not licensed any new alternative medicine facilities or practitioners in the last two years.

'Only the licences of those already registered are being renewed,' he added.

'New licences will be given only after the new law comes into force.' Bahrain has facilities and centres offering homoeopathic, Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, as well as acupuncture and acupressure treatments.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Bahrain | Healthcare | guidelines | rules | Alternative medicine |

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