By Sunit Bezbaroowa April 2003 Dr Ravinder Mamtani, MD, is a professor of clinical preventive medicine and Director of the medical acupuncture training programme for physicians and Course Director of complementary and alternative medicine at New York Medical College. He is also the Director of the Occupational Health Center in the Department of Medicine and section chief of the complementary medicine at the Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, USA. In February, Dr Mamtani was in New Delhi to attend a conference on Integrated Medical Care. He spoke to Sunit Bezbaroowa. Excerpts: What does Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) signify? CAM, or integrated medical care, is combining bio-medical approaches with traditional systems such as yoga, acupuncture and homoeopathy and thereby providing treatment against various diseases. What is the response of the West towards CAM?CAM is pretty active in the West and patients with chronic problems are showing tremendous amount of interest in it, since it involves natural treatments and people are comfortable using it. Even doctors in the US are doing more research on CAM. What challenges you had to face when you started introducing CAM in the West? My first challenge was to sensitize a change of thought to those who received treatment from mainstream medicine practitioners. Funding for CAM was limited and this also proved to be a barrier in my initiatives. Is the mainstream medicine a threat to CAM?Mainstream medicine cannot be called a threat to CAM. We can provide a system where practitioners, belonging to both the bio-medical world and alternative medicine can merge knowledge from both their respective areas of treatment. What should be the role of healthcare practitioners while administering CAM to patients? Healthcare practitioners should be brave enough to discourage the use of therapies that can prove to be har ful to patients. For instance, self-medication with large doses of vitamins and unwarranted use of herbal supplements may have adverse health effects. CAM should only be delivered by qualified medical practitioners. Do integrated medicine institutions exist anywhere in the world? In the US, we have the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institute of Health (NIH) funded by the Federal Government. In Germany and England there are two institutes dealing with homoeopathy and integrated medicine. In India, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), New Delhi is trying to make the concept of integrated medicine popular. What are your further plans regarding CAM? I would definitely like to write a book for public at large to enlighten them with a wide variety of healthcare issues. Someday, I would also like to open my own full-fledged CAM institute. What is the World Health Organization‘s stand on CAM? WHO‘s Stategic Report of 2002 states that ‘‘it is no longer an option for us to ignore Complementary and Alternative Medicine.‘‘ So, this is a positive sign regarding the future of CAM and this would make more and more people come forward to use CAM. Do you have any plans to improve the CAM scene in India?A lot of doctors and other professionals have come up to me to extend their support in furthering the integrated medicine movement in India and I would always look forward to building relationships with interested people in this respect. What‘s your message to our readers?As a doctor, all I can say is that any qualified practitioner‘s treatment should be such that it reduces pain and takes away suffering. Contact: Ph: 1-914-594-4378 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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