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Alternative therapies. DO THEY WORK ?
More people are trying these medically unproven treatments,
but the authorities urge caution
By Melissa Pang, Poon Chian Hui
& Fiona Low
The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) said that up till Nov 30 last year, there were 250 complaints lodged against businesses in the medical industry and 2,935 in the beauty industry.
In 2007, the medical and beauty industry saw 166 and 1,105 complaints respectively.
Case’s figures for the medical industry include complaints levelled at regulated practitioners such as doctors, dentists, hospitals, and clinics.
Case executive director Seah Seng Choon said the grouses were mostly linked to allergic reactions, adverse reactions to treatments such as vomiting and pain, and ineffectiveness of treatment.
Unlike doctors, practitioners without a medical background do not fall under purview of the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) and are allowed to offer services that may not be medically proven.
Doctors, however, are rapped when they do so. In October last year, a general practitioner was fined by the SMC for using a bioresonance machine to treat smokers and patients who suffered from allergies and had autism. He was fined $ 5,000 and ordered to stop providing the treatment.
But at least six bioresonance centres here – not run by doctors – are still operating.
Associate Proffesor Koh Hwee Ling, who teaches a complementary medicine and health module at the National University of Singapore, said a lot of complementary and alternative medicine treatments have not been clinically tested in proper trials.
Hence, there is still a large degree of apprehension and even scepticism towards such treatments, especially by doctors.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Health (MOH) urged caution. The public, she said, should be aware of the nature of the treatments and possible complications and side effects.