Nosodes
The European HMPWG
should review and reformulate
the official requirements for
Nosodes in a positive way!
Microbiological- and Phytotherapy
AMR
Microbiological Therapy and Phytotherapy
Best complementary medicine options
to reduce antibiotic treatment
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Complementary and Alternative Medicine

ANME advocates for Complementary
and Alternative Medicine in Europe

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Report by Maike Julia Metzen

In October 2003, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in its 32nd General Assembly, adopted the Convention on Cultural Heritage, including Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH). The latter includes traditional practices, traditional craftsmanship, as well as knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe. The convention entered into force in 2006 and provides the possibility for organizations to register their practice or tradition should it fulfill the following criteria:

  • practice is being actively transferred; passed on from human to human
  • dynamic cultural heritage, includes a clear outlook for further development in the future
  • fostering a feeling of belonging and includes civil society

With regards to the application procedure, an ICH needs to be recognized at national level first in order to be recognized at UNESCO`s international section in Paris. An organization can apply as an advisory board member. The advisory board will – based upon proposals from the member states – award the title of ICH. At national level, national cultural authorities are involved in the selection of the ICH awards, which is why the admission as ICH can be considered a special recognition by the state.

ANME believes that knowledge of natural healing methods constitutes an inclusive and vivid culture that is worth preserving. According to ANME´s statutes, all kinds of Traditional & Complementary Medicines (T&CM) should be considered intangible cultural heritage and should be protected for EU citizens and T&CM practitioners alike.

While methods such as acupuncture and moxibustion, two practices from TCM, have been recognized as ICH as early as 2009, and also Kneipp therapy has been recognized in Germany in 2015 and in Austria in 2020, ANME aims at having T&CM as a whole recognized as ICH by UNESCO. This is not only a unifying factor for the many different practices, but also a big chance to enhance public awareness and recognition of T&CM. This is particularly important taking into account the current situation where traditional healing methods are increasingly challenged by conventional medicine, and driven out of the market by regulations which are tailored to conventional medicine and therefore do not provide a feasible framework for T&CM to be registered. At the same time, natural medicines are becoming more and more popular among the population.

In order to preserve this traditional knowledge, ANME is aiming at both registering T&CM as ICH at UNESCO, and at having a seat in the advisory board of the international UNESCO Commission in Paris. To this end, ANME has taken a number of steps in recent years:

  • ANME has been a member of the European Coalition for Homeopathic and Anthroposophical Medicinal products since 2005, where we provide input and help promote the cultural significance and Intangible Heritage of T&CM.
  • In 2008, ANME invited the head of the Austrian UNESCO Commission, Mag. Walcher, to their Annual General Assembly where she elaborated on possibilities to have T&CM recognized as ICH. ANME has been in close contact with the Austrian UNESCO Commission ever since, as well as with the Austrian National Agency for ICH. Here, ANME was involved in the project „Safeguarding Traditional Remedies“ which assessed the possibilities for T&CM to contribute to public health and provided exact descriptions of different healing methods.
  • In 2008 ANME proposed to have acupuncture and moxibustion included as ICH and subsequently it was taken forward by China to be registered as ICH with the International UNESCO Commission, which became effective in 2009.
  • In 2009, ANME has initiated an amendment to the EU Patient´s Rights Directive to have the availability of T&CM guaranteed for patients and practitioners across the EU. Particularly T&CM practitioners, being the guardians of this intangible heritage should have the freedom to apply this legacy now and in the future.
  • Following, in 2009 and 2010 ANME conducted a campaign vis-à-vis EU authorities at the European Commission (DG SANTE, formerly SG SANCO) and decision-makers in the European Parliament in order to point to the benefits for T&CM to be recognized as ICH
  • Even before Germany officially joined the UNESCO Convention on ICH in July 2013, ANME was already in touch with the German UNESCO Commission. The first ICH list was published in Germany in 2014. Subsequently, it was decided that ANME would not file an application alone, but collaborate with other stakeholders in doing so.
  • In October 2014, ANME organized a conference at national level in Baden-Baden, Germany with a number of stakeholders (mainly associations of doctors, practitioners and patients all active in T&CM) in order to agree on the broad lines of the application. The meeting made clear that although T&CM is so diverse in its practices and approaches, it is unified by a holistic approach to health and life as a whole. It was agreed that T&CM („Naturheilkunde“) will be registered with the German UNESCO Commission as ICH.
  • The first joint application was filed in 2015, the second one in 2016
  • Inspired by ANME´s approach to have T&CM recognized as ICH, German Kneipp-Bund e.V. managed to have Kneipp therapy successfully registered as ICH in Germany in 2015.
  • In October 2017, a third application was filed in Germany, featuring a website and a short movie (www.heilkraft-natur.info) ; …and applied again in 2019.
  • In 2019, ANME applied for a seat at UNESCO´s advisory board in Paris, so as to have the opportunity to have a say in the selection of the final applications and to give the recognition of T&CM as ICH a further push
  • In 2020, ANME successfully supported the approval of Kneipp therapy as ICH in Austria.

Furthermore, ANME has collaborated with a number of scientists active in the field of T&CM in connection with ICH, who have frequently supported our applications, such as Mag. Dr. Michaela Noseck-Licul (ANME-award winner 2011), as well as with the Universities of Berlin, Essen, Munich and Rostock.

Outlook for 2021 and beyond:

In 2021, ANME will file another application for a seat at the international UNESCO´s advisory board in Paris and will continue to support its members across Europe with their national applications for ICH in the member states. Furthermore, ANME will continue to enhance knowledge around and application of T&CM as cultural heritage that all EU citizens should be entitled to profit from.