WHO Beijing Declaration Supports Chiropractic

November 21, 2008
Nov. 21, Toronto, ON - Strong new policy support for the continued growth and acceptance of chiropractic and other branches of natural medicine in national health systems was given by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its member nations in Beijing this month.
This was at the WHO congress on Traditional Medicine, which included a Symposium on Manual Methods of Healthcare organized for WHO by the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC). ‘Traditional medicine’ is the term used by WHO for both traditional systems of healthcare, such as Chinese traditional medicine, and CAM was used for systems such as herbal remedies and manual methods of treatment.

In her opening address to the congress, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan pointed out that the striking increase in the use of CAM in affluent societies reflected certain weaknesses in modern medical care, including its depersonalized and “assembly line” nature, and a number of strengths in CAM. These strengths included a more compassionate and holistic approach to healthcare and a focus on prevention as well as cure, strengths that meant that CAM should have a bigger role in primary health care and in national healthcare systems.

Dr. Chan explained that the two systems of traditional and western medicine “need not clash…they can blend together in a beneficial harmony, using the best features of each system.” However this was “not something that will happen by itself…deliberate policy decisions have to be made.”

The congress then supported recent WHO policy to promote TM/CAM by approving a Beijing Declaration which recognized the value of TM/CAM, and called upon all governments to provide for effective use of TM/CAM in their health care systems and to “establish systems for the qualification, accreditation or licensing of practitioners.”

During the debate, and in his address to the congress, WFC President Dr. Stathis Papadopoulos of Cyprus encouraged adoption of the declaration, gave examples of the integration of chiropractic and medical services in various countries, and illustrated how beneficial this was for patients and healthcare systems. One example was from Mexico, where all graduates from the chiropractic program at a state university in Mexico City commence practice with a one year internship at state hospitals.

The chiropractic profession had a strong presence at the congress, with approximately 120 delegates from 26 countries attending the Congress Opening Ceremony and Banquet, and the Symposium on Manual Methods of Healthcare. For the many Chinese Ministry of Health officials and delegates present the WFC provided a five-minute video on chiropractic, and copies of the WHO Guidelines on Basic Training and Safety in Chiropractic, both of these in Chinese. This was made possible through the generous technical and funding support from Palmer College, Life University, and the Hong Kong Chiropractors’ Association.

At the symposium, there were 30-minute presentations by representatives of many manual healthcare professions and groups – including Chinese tuina, Korean chuna, Thai nuad, Japanese judo bonesetting, chiropractic, osteopathy, Swedish massage therapy, naprapathy, and Latin American bonesetting. Presentations of chiropractic and its research status were given by Dr. William Meeker, President, Palmer College, West Campus at San Jose, and WFC Research Council Chair Dr. Scott Haldeman of Los Angeles.

This congress represented a major milestone for chiropractic” says WFC president Dr. Papadopoulos. “Chiropractic was seen by WHO, government officials from many countries and delegates from other professions as the most developed profession internationally in the field of manual healthcare, and the Beijing Declaration called upon all countries to recognize and regulate CAM professionals such as doctors of chiropractic.”

During the next year the WFC will continue to work with WHO to promote its policies supporting the integration of chiropractic in national health systems. It will be greatly assisted, in this, by Dr. Molly Robinson, a recent graduate of Northwestern Health Sciences University in Minnesota, who starts work in January 2009 as a Technical Officer at WHO in Geneva – the first doctor of chiropractic to serve in this capacity.

During 2009, Dr. Robinson will have six chiropractic student interns working with her, each for a period of three months, under arrangements made possible because of the work of the WFC and the World Congress of Chiropractic Students, and funding support from NCMIC, the NBCE, Standard Process and Foot Levelers.

For the full text of Dr. Chan’s address, Dr. Papadopoulos’ address, and the Beijing Declaration visit the Newsroom at www.wfc.org and/or the Director General’s speeches at www.who.int .

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