Australian Doctors, Scientists Wage War On Alternative Medicine

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In 1997 Kevin Sorbo, known for his starring role in the television series Hercules, felt a searing pain in his left shoulder during a workout. Thinking it was a strain, he went to see his chiropractor, who manipulated his neck for treatment. Several days later the actor suffered a stroke and a recent article in Neurology Now links the aneurysm with the actions of his chiropractor. The article is currently used as reference material by a prominent group of Australian doctors, medical researchers, and scientists who are trying to curb what they refer to as pseudosciences, like branches of chiropractic practice, right at their root: the universities where they are taught. Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM) already has 450 members. They include Ian Frazer, the inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine, and Sir Gustav Nossal, a renowned immunologist. Among their group, 50 are international and they too hope to snuff out what they refer to as modern-day quackery. The group has written a letter to all of Australia’s university vice-chancellors asking them to: “Reverse the trend which sees government-funded tertiary institutions offering courses in the health care sciences that are not underpinned by convincing scientific evidence.” The questionable courses include homeopathy, iridology, reflexology, Chinese herbal medicine, chiropractic, naturopathy, and aromatherapy, some of which are taught at 18 of 39 Australian universities. “A university is supposed to be a bastion of good science, but their reputation is let down by teaching something like homeopathy,” said John Dwyer, a founding member of FSM and emeritus professor of medicine at the University of New South Wales. But in Australia, just like in the United States, alternative medicine is a billion-dollar industry. Even though the country has a decent health care system — a publication from the Commonwealth Fund looked at seven countries and Australia’s health care system was ranked third, while the U.S. was ranked last — the interest in natural health seems to be booming. According to data from the National Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA), 70 percent of Australians use complementary medicine.

original site http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/03/australian-doctors-scientists-wage-war-on-alternative-medicine/253342/

Australian Doctors Get Right to Assist Suicide

Nickson, 54 and single, a former theater company director who found himself a spokesman for legislation that has turned the Northern Territory of Australia into the first jurisdiction in the world to allow doctors to take the lives of terminally ill patients who wish to die. After the bill was passed last spring in the territorial parliament, Mr. Nickson said: “I felt relief. I can get on with living and know that I can be helped if the time comes.” The legislation is history-making, with the first terminally ill patients expected to make use of the law later this year, and it has drawn an outcry from the Australian Medical Association, church leaders and anti-euthanasia groups. Under the law, a patient whose illness has been diagnosed as terminal by two doctors can ask for death, usually by pill or lethal injection, to put an end to suffering. At least one of the doctors must have a background in psychiatry, and a patient must wait at least nine days — a “cooling-off period” — before the request can be met. Opponents of the bill say it could turn Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, into the world’s suicide capital, with patients coming from around the world to this sparsely populated corner of Australia in the knowledge that someone will help them to die. Although individual doctors have come forward to say they would be willing to carry out the law, major doctors’ groups have opposed the bill because, they say, it is a violation of the Hippocratic Oath for doctors to be put in the position of deciding to end a life. Margaret Tighe, chairwoman of Right to Life Australia, said the bill would encourage families to put pressure on aging or mentally ill relatives literally to sign away their lives. “The people who are most vulnerable and least able to speak up for themselves are the ones who will lose their lives in this,” Mrs. Tighe said. “People who don’t think that’s the case are being terribly naive.” The Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Sydney, the nation’s largest city, said in a statement that the bill “in no way resolves the most fundamental issue of all — and that is that no one in society ought to have the right to end someone else’s life.” While euthanasia is legal to some degree in several nations, no place has gone quite so far as the Northern Territory, an area twice the size of Texas with a population of 160,000, about half of them in Darwin. It is Australia’s last frontier.

straight from the source http://www.nytimes.com/1995/07/28/world/australian-doctors-get-right-to-assist-suicide.html

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