Complementary and alternative medicine finally gets a break
A growing number of people are turning to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for disorders they feel cannot be treated with conventional therapy. This number tops the 100 million mark in the EU alone. However, the challenge faced by CAM practitioners is the lack of funding and scientific cooperation that hampers this area of medicine. Enter the EU-funded CAMbrella project that is determined to solve this problem. With EUR 1.5 million in support under the 'Health' Theme of the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7), CAMbrella kick-starts on 1 January 2010.
CAMbrella ('Cambrella: a pan-European research network for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM)') will help boost the well-being of European citizens by creating an EU-wide road map that encompasses the preconditions for future research within complementary and alternative medicine in Europe.
Until 2012, the project partners will work to build a network of European research institutes in complementary medicine. This objective will result in stronger cooperation on a global scale.
'CAMbrella's eight working groups will focus on terminology, legal regulation, patients' needs, the role of CAM treatments in healthcare systems, and research methodology,' explained Dr Wolfgang Weidenhammer of the Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Technische Universität Munich in Germany.
'We will develop a comprehensive understanding of the current status of CAM in Europe, which will serve as a starting point for future research activities,' added Dr Weidenhammer, who is also coordinating the project.
The project's specific objectives include development of consensus-based terminology widely accepted in Europe to describe CAM interventions, creation of a knowledge base that facilitates our understanding of patient demand for CAM and its prevalence, and exploration of the needs, beliefs and attitudes of EU citizens with respect to CAM.
The CAMbrella consortium comprises 16 scientific partner organisations from 12 European countries including Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Romania, Sweden and the UK. An advisory board, which includes key stakeholder groups like providers, practitioners, patients and consumers, is supporting the project.
'In 2008, the European Commission for the first time announced a sponsorship in the field of complementary medicine — in the context of [FP7],' Dr Weidenhammer said. 'The funding of CAMbrella crowns the efforts of numerous European initiatives and organisations for getting complementary medicine into a European focus.'
Complementary and alternative medicine encompasses therapies with a cultural or historical basis including herbalism, meditation, yoga, hypnosis, biofeedback, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.