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To best of health and great docs!

Undoubtedly, Senator Professor Emeritus Dr Henry Fraser is no fan of alternative medicine. In effect, he shares a concern that the medical training and set standards received by most from the University of the West Indies are under threat because of it.

Revealing his profound apprehension on Saturday, just before the eve of World Family Doctors’ Day, at the start of a two-day Continuing Medical Education Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Senator Fraser accentuated his perceived palpable peril of dabbling with alternative medicine as he did his encouraging commitment to continuing medication education, status quo-style.

The standards the professor and educator boasts, and which we so eagerly expect, are said to be “under threat by a new society which is seduced by the glamorous claims of many forms of alternative practices and the claims of business-oriented medical schools . . .”.

The good doctor told fellow physicians that “only by practising at the highest standards of medical knowledge, skill, ethics and care for our patients will we achieve the best results and genuine life satisfaction” –– presumably without an iota of benefit from alternative medical care.

We do not advise or advocate ignoring Professor Fraser’s disquietude for one moment. For, indeed there are some alternative medicine practitioners out there who are more interested in the money they can make, than in the public health, furthermore yours.

Moreover, there can be terrible side effects (which are not exclusive of traditional pharmaceutical medicines) from ill-advised and misguided use and over-application of alternative medication, beefed up by fake miracle promises and false hope. And, yes, in some cases these alternative specialists see no boundaries and are corralled by no guidelines whatever, and are thus often tempted to deceive.

So, no, we are not suggesting by any means that you ignore Professor Fraser’s fears. As far as your ailments go, we urge that any personal counsel or diagnosis you seek, you should most definitely consult your family doctor, whose special day was celebrated today, Monday, May 19.

The point we need to make, however, is that your well trained and bona fide doctor may have time for some alternative treatment to the traditional and conventional care by pharmaceuticals. Thus, the blanket dismissal of alternative medical care seems extreme.

Your doctor, whom we take for granted you can trust, will be able to say whether an alternative remedy that interests you is safe or not, and is compatible with your body. This, of course, beats putting blind faith in a concoction to circumvent visiting the doctor’s –– and putting oneself at greater health risk and expense in the long run.

It is not unknown for the usage of alternative medicine to be fatal, particularly in cases where men have sought to be more virile with and placating of the female than their shrinking physical prowess could sustain.

Scientific analyses have shown that several herbal products on the market contain none of the ingredients their labels promise, and some expensive, sophisticatedly branded jars are filled with nothing but ineffectual dried weed –– the unwise use of which could be quite harmful.

Still, we are told, other scientific analyses have shown the worth of some alternative medicines that pose no threat to public health once used exactly as recommended. Alternative medicine may not pose that threat to public health if it is considered exactly that: an alternative –– a proven one at that, and embraced by your family doctor.

Having said that, we are not unmindful of the many side effects, collateral illnesses, and sometimes deaths consequent upon the use of prescription drugs. The recommendation of pharmaceuticals, as much as of alternative medicine, requires great thought and care, and as Professor Fraser argues, we must at all times hold to high standards.

We aver, too, that we all must be careful not to be caught up any acute smear campaign by the multinational pharmaceutical companies to belittle the efficacy of and demonize alternative remedies that cost little or nothing and cannot be patented in a medical industry worth billions of dollars annually.

We must take care too not to be brainwashed into believing the only solution to disease is swallowing a pill. There have been other solutions
for millennia, before anyone discovered out how to make money out of health care.

And we have to guide us our very own trusted family physicians, whose day was today, May 19 –– and we thank them for their care!


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