Canada Appoints Expert Panel for Traditional Chinese Medicine
VANCOUVER - Canada's health minister Leona Aglukkaq announced on Wednesday that the country would appoint 25 to 30 members for its first national advisory committee on traditional Chinese medicine.
The potential members, which are being sought from such key stakeholder groups as health care professionals, academics, government organizations, industry and end-users, among others, will be appointed for 24 to 36-month terms to ensure continuity in the work.
The appointees, all volunteers, will be announced in late February or early March, according to Aglukkaq, the sole parliamentary member for Canada's northern Nunavat territory.
The committee members will meet twice annually, once in the east of the country and once in the west.
Aglukkaq said as more Canadians use traditional Chinese medicine, Health Canada and its Natural Health Products Directorate needs to learn more about them, how they are used and their origins, among others.
"So to move forward and addressing access to the usage, the issue of health and safety, we needed to form an ongoing advisory board to provide advice to Health Canada on these products, so that we in Health Canada can make informed decisions on the natural health products, traditional Chinese medicines, in the markets in Canada," Aglukkaq said.
Late last year, Health Canada held community roundtables in Toronto and Vancouver, the country’s two main Chinese-Canadian population bases, and the biggest concern among those in attendance was individuals wanting greater access to products that they had used all their lives.
Aglukkaq said the government is committed to continuing that access to traditional Chinese medicines, but at the same wanted to be sure that all the products were safe and do what they claim to do.
With the new advisory committee reporting to the Natural Health Products Directorate, its director general, Scott Sawler, said Health Canada realizes that the paradigm is different for traditional Chinese medicine than allopathic medicine; the ongoing dialogue, therefore, would help Canadians get the products for the health care they desire.
"In China, how traditional Chinese medicines are used is different than how we regulate them here. So we want to be able to explore that, make sure we’re appropriately regulating traditional Chinese medicines."
He said using allopathic methods to try and evaluate traditional Chinese medicines would be too rigid.
"So we wanted to ensure that we have a committee providing us advice and support to ensure that we have a flexible method to limit products that are unsafe to the market, but ensure access to those that are used in cultures, such as traditional Chinese medicine, and we're hoping to get that input."
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