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CAMbrella work package 6

The global perspective

The aim of this work package was to map the international position and status of CAM within health care policy so as to view the EU situation in context. This approach was founded on the WHO Global strategy for Traditional Medicine (TM) and/or CAM, and its main objectives were to:
• incorporate experiences from countries in which CAM Research and Development (R&D) is integrated and publicly supported (US/Canada), while exploring its use as TM in developing countries (China/India)
• understand the pros and cons of CAM R&D internationally addressing issues of patient rights and need, cost, regulation (of practitioner and product), evidence base and research policy/strategy
• consider the risks of over harvesting medicinal plants and
the protection of traditional inherited knowledge of traditional medicine used within CAM
• identify the strategies we need to address from an EU perspective, as well as develop an understanding of how the EU might relate to international developments.

Key stakeholders on the global arena of CAM R&D vary greatly in terms of capacity, mission, and funding source (private/public). They ranged from only providing research funding to having a comprehensive R&D and communication agenda. A common shift in R&D strategy was noted. Where ten years ago research focused mainly on exploring efficacy and mechanisms, the majority of stakeholders today emphasise the importance of a broad spectrum of research including methodologies exploring context, safety and comparative effectiveness of whole systems of care.

Europe lags well behind other regions such as North America, Asia and Australia in terms of the level of investment in CAM research and the integration of research results into health policy and health regulation.

An emerging trend among many of the stakeholders was to prioritise studies focusing on clinical effectiveness of whole systems of care.

The choice of method(s) for any particular project or experiment should be based on the specific scientific question and should focus on delivering safe and effective health interventions to EU citizens.

In line with the findings of this workpackage, the CAM research strategy for Europe should be based on the popularity of a specific intervention and related to the national or regional public health needs and disease burden. High quality research requires independent peer-reviewed funding and experienced medical research networks: both should be fostered by a European institutional structure comparable to the National Centre for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) in the United States.

A centralised EU CAM centre could make operational the CAMbrella recommendations in collaboration with selected EU member states and appropriate (worldwide) academic institutions to enable evidence-based health sector reform with appropriate CAM interventions in the EU.

The complete work package reports can be downloaded here.
- Existing international guidelines for CAM: Progress report on the global status of CAM research and development
- Global stakeholders view on CAM research and development: Implications for the EU roadmap

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