Work starts on alt.health database

The Ministry of Health is in the early stages of defining requirements for a database of "alternative and complementary" health therapies, their practitioners and accompanying research and consumer advice on their validity and safety.

The Ministry of Health is in the early stages of defining requirements for a database of “alternative and complementary” health therapies, their practitioners and accompanying research and consumer advice on their validity and safety.

This year’s Budget provided $600,000 for the exercise, an initiative of the Green Party. The database is expected to be up and running by about September, says Ministry spokeswoman Hayley Brock.

The data will, “we are hoping”, be accessible through a public website, and will be sectioned according to the various disciplines of alternative medicine — “acupuncture, homoeopathy, iridology and so on”, Brock says. Iridology is the attempted diagnosis of disorders in all parts of the body by examining the coloured patterns in the iris of the eye.

The information will be vetted for acceptability by “the provider in association with ministry staff”, Brock says. “The providers are the ones who have specific skills in their area.”

It is anticipated that the providers of therapies will have online access to the database to update their own information.

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