Many Australians rely every day on natural medicines and/or the services of a natural health practitioner to maintain their health.
Yet this significant contribution to the well-being of grateful ordinary Australians goes largely unacknowledged by politicians, the news media and mainstream medicine.
Rather instead we see an extraordinary bias against these therapies, to the point where its practitioners are often demeaned and even vilified by the news media and the vested interests of the current model of ‘disease care’.
In tune with this unjustified prejudice, the HAP is being painted as a group of lunatic, anti-science extremists who have dangerous policies.
For example, recent postings, including those on Wikipedia by hostile contributors, have claimed that the HAP is anti-vaccination.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
I have always supported vaccination where it can be safely and effectively used, and that is also the HAP’s policy.
In fact, the HAP is not ‘anti’ anything credible in the health sphere.
We believe that what is needed is a positive, pluralistic approach to true healthcare.
One that embraces, rather than discredits, models that seek to understand human health in its broader social and environmental context, rather than just viewing the human body as a biochemical machine. True freedom of choice in health care, facilitated by a supportive and empathetic government and informed by balanced media representation, is what we seek.
Over the past decade, the situation in Australian health has become even more polarised.
Ironically, this is happening at a time when biomedical research is making new discoveries that are validating core natural health principles, such as the benefits of a healthy diet, optimum body weight and physical activity.
The advice that many doctors give their patients today would have been viewed as radical naturopathic propaganda three decades ago.
I believe we desperately need the HAP in order to ensure that this unnecessary hostility or misunderstanding towards natural modes of treatment does not continue, as this will be detrimental to everyone’s shared goal of improving our community’s overall health.
Most current politicians do not understand the important role played by natural healthcare practitioners in keeping Australia healthy.
They are particularly unaware of the significant budgetary health savings that results from the privately funded daily work of numerous dedicated therapists, often helping people suffering problems that mainstream medicine could not.
There is no better example of this bias than the recent announcement by the Australian Labor Party that they intend to stop the health fund rebate for natural therapies.
Said to save $180 million over four years, surely this sum speaks to the important and widespread role played by the many chiropractors, acupuncturists, herbalists and naturopaths, to name a few.
The HAP will work to ensure that this short-sighted and misguided policy will not be passed by the Senate.
By and large the news media is unjustifiably biased against natural health.
The recent Four Corners program aired by the ABC contained numerous misrepresentations.
This was a US documentary about the US situation and not at all relevant to Australia, but the ABC ran it nonetheless.
The documentary made much of a damning herb quality study conducted by the New York Attorney General using DNA barcoding.
This technique has since been discredited by recent scientific studies, including one by the US Food and Drug Administration that concluded that DNA barcoding on its own is not suitable for assessing herb quality.
Yet there was no opportunity afforded by the ABC for interested parties to counter this and other misrepresentations.
At the end of the program the journalist made a point of saying the ABC was interested to hear from people who were harmed by natural medicines.
Sadly missing was a similar invitation to those who had been helped.
The vested interests against natural healthcare are organising in an unprecedented way.
It is time for everyone who wants to protect their freedom of choice in health care to make a stand.
We need to make sure that the approach taken by Government to natural healthcare is not only supportive and respectful, but is truly proportional to the significant service it provides in keeping Australia healthy.
No other political party will be working to ensure this very important objective.
Kerry Bone, President HAP.