Published: 2019-07-01 11:09 | Updated: 2019-07-02 10:52

Almedalen 2019: Professor Jonas F Ludvigsson debates the government investigation ”complementary and alternative medicine” (the KAV report)

Green herb intertwining with a model of molecules

On July 3, Professor Jonas F Ludvigsson will participate in a seminar in Almedalen. At the seminar, participants will discuss the government investigation ”complementary and alternative medicine” (the KAV report), which was handed to the Swedish government in May this year.

What has been your role in the investigation?

”I have represented the Swedish Society of Medicine and the Swedish Medical Association in this investigation. I represented what we traditionally call ”healthcare”. Since I am a professor I was also asked to comment on research. Being a pediatrician I was particularly involved in questions relating to children and pregnant women”, says Jonas F Ludvigsson.

What is the investigation about?

”Ever since the early 1900s, Sweden has had a law regulating complementary and alternative medicine. The current law forbids complementary and alternative medicine in patients with cancer, epilepsy or diabetes, but there are other diseases which are just as severe (for instance ALS). Complementary and alternative medicine may have severe consequences if it replaces (rather than complements) traditional healthcare. Imagine treating a patient with septicaemia with acupuncture rather than antibiotics! At the same time the current law prohibits all complementary and alternative medicine in children aged <8 years, and this means that the current use of infant massage is illegal. The healthcare has changed a lot in recent years and the law needs an update.”

In the investigation you have underlined the need for specific protection for pregnant women and children. Why is that so important to you?

”The main message of the investigation is that we suggest the Parliament to prohibit anyone to apply complementary and alternative medicine in order to treat severe diseases (and not only cancer, diabetes or epilepsy). We do however allow their use to relieve symptoms. 

In children we have increased the age limit to 15 years. Below that age, no diseases can be treated (severe or mild) using complementary and alternative medicine, but we allow their use to relieve symptoms. So we believe that for instance infant massage for infant colic can be allowed (not to treat but to relieve symptoms).”

What have you learnt from participating in a government investigation?

”Only now have I realised how much preparatory work goes into each investigation. This has been two years with many meetings and lots to read. I am impressed by the organisation behind the investigation.” 

Have you participated in any Almedalen event before?

”Yes, during my years as Chair of the Swedish Society of Pediatrics I co-organised two seminars. They were well received and I hope that just as many people will visit our seminar on complementary and alternative medicine in Visby on July 3.”

The seminar takes place at Creperie & Logi, Strykjärnshuset, Wallers Plats 3 at 9 am, on Wednesday July 3.

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