According to the latest Vital Signs 2003, a book released by the WorldWatch Institute in cooperation with the United Nations Environmental Programme, traditional medicine and complementary medicine are primary sources of health care for nearly eight percent of the world’s people. How and why are so many people using alternative forms of medicine?
China: Traditional Chinese medicine is fully integrated into China’s health system and 95 percent of hospitals have units for traditional medicine.
India: Traditional medicine, such as ayurveda, siddha, unani, yoga, and homeopathy, is widely used in rural India, where 70 percent of the population lives.
United States: National expenditure on complementary or alternative medicine stands at $2.7 billion per year.
Japan: Seventy-two percent of registered western-style doctors use kampo medicine, the Japanese adaptation of traditional Chinese medicine.
Europe: Acupuncture is provided by 77 percent of the pain clinics in Germany; in the United Kingdom, 46 percent of doctors recommend patients get acupuncture elsewhere or perform it themselves.
Africa: Most Africans living with HIV/AIDS or malaria use some form of traditional medicine. In Ghana, drugs from a clinic can cost more than 10 times as much as self-treatment with herbs.
Central and South America: Regulation and registration of herbal medicines have been established in Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.Reprinted with permission from Worldwatch Institute, Vital Signs 2003, copyright 2003, Worldwatch.