Integrative Care
Policy News

Swedish MP: “I C is just what we need in Sweden!”

15 September, 2012 by David Finer

Finn Bengtsson

– I C is just what we have been missing in Sweden. As politicians we will really be able to use your results and I am looking forward to them, said Professor of Medicine and MP for the Swedish Conservative Party Finn Bengtsson, at the opening ceremony of I C.

At the inauguration, held on the premises of United Spaces in the Waterfront Building in Stockholm on February 23, Torkel Falkenberg and Johanna Hök symbolically cut the ribbon and launched the research center I C and its new homepage.

Uncompromising and ambitious
The experienced moderator Annika Dopping led the proceedings during the half day of presentations, discussions, entertainment and mingling. Some 50 people were present, representing health care, politics, research and the media. Presentations were heard from the owners, the Board, I C staff and politicans.

Professor and MP Finn Bengtsson welcomed the initiative and its uncompromising approach to integrative medicine and ambitious attitude towards influencing the health care system.

Bengtsson, who is a consultant in clinical pharmacology at Linköping University Hospital and represents the conservative party in a parliamentary committee on social insurance, has previously spoken out in favor of rapprochement between CAM and conventional medicine.

Develop analytical methods
Several times during his presentation, in addressing the I C researchers, Finn Bengtsson referred to his fiend and mentor Arvid Carlsson, the 2000 Nobel Prize winner in medicine or physiology. Be prepared to stand on your own two legs, he said.

– Don’t be limited by conventional scientific methodology in evaluating integrative care. See to it that you also develop robust research methods of your own. That way your research will also contribute substantially to developing conventional health care.

Looking into the crystal ball, the MP and professor in clinical pharmacology saw an opening for integrative care.

–  I see a future in which a lot of the input to conventional medicine will come from other sources such as Eastern Medicine with 5000 years of experience, whereas Western medicine only has been around for about 100 years. Why do we think our scientific paradigm should have the privilege of dictating the premises for other forms of treatment, which we know very little about? That is a remarkable attitude, Finn Bengtsson said.

Support for salutogenic view
Present at the inauguration was also Anne Marie Brodén, also from the conservative party and chairperson of the parliamentary group for Culture and Health. The group works across party lines with strong support from several ministers, taking a closer look at what is to be gained from the salutogenic perspective, said Finn Bengtsson.

A salutogenic perspective indicates a focus on factors, which preserve and promote health rather than those that cause disease. The model was formulated by the American medical sociologist Aaron Antonovsky in a publication in 1979 and has had a great impact on many disciplines and professions like teaching, health care and social work.

According to the theory, health is associated with a Sence of Coherence, which inludes three components – comprehensibility, manageability, and meaningfulness.

Lacks patient rights law
Sweden is one of the very few European countries without a patient rights’ law. On the other hand, health care providers have been given certain obligations towards the population, which are regulated in the Health and Medical Service Act. But Finn Bengtsson would like to go further.

– We are looking to pass patient rights’ laws. Today, CAM is prohibited from being used during millions of health care encounters, despite many people being curious about these methods. The health care system should be open towards well-informed patients.

But how can we guarantee patient safety at the same time? Finn Bengtsson asked rhetorically. His suggestion was that in time the activities of CAM providers should be subject to the same inspections as other institutions of higher education in order to develop tools for quality control and certification.

Different collaborative models
But that does not mean that we have to wait for all CAM providers to get certified according to the statutes of the National Board of Health and Welfare (NHBW), Finn Bengtsson emphasized. There are other models available for collaboration.

–  Requiring certification before a provider is allowed to practice is the wrong way of going about it. Of course, the optimal situation would be for health care professionals, subject to the constant control of the NBHW, who also have an interest in CAM, to chose to provide such options within their own professional framework. But patient safety can be safeguarded by a CAM provider, who while not being a certified health care provider him-/herself, would be working together with a certified health care professional, who then would guarantee the patient´s safety under the authority of the NBHW.

Finn Bengtsson also envisages opening a quality registry in the future for both conventional and CAM care and treatment, which would be accessible to patients and financed with public funds. That way it would be easier to disseminate knowledge about what is good and bad, and separate the chaff of less responsible practitioners from the wheat of those who represent a scientific and healthy choice.

David Finer

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