The Health Australia Party should leave healthcare policy to people better suited to the task, say health stakeholders.
“I am concerned that a one-issue political party has sprung up around wanting to put unproven alternative health products on equal footing with thoroughly-researched medical practices,” says AMA (NSW) President Prof Brad Frankum.
Taree pharmacist and member of Friends of Science in Medicine member Ian Carr told the AJP today that “scaremongering” about fluoridation has been proven to be unfounded, and that arguments against evidence-based health measures such as fluoridation and vaccination often rely on conspiracy theories rather than facts.
HAP has denied being an anti-vaccination party.
Another plank of its platform includes its intent to “defend the right of every person/parent/legal guardian to choose to decline invasive medical procedures/interventions with no resultant punitive action of any kind”.
“I’d suggest that any support from the general public for these sorts of groups is not well considered,” Carr says.
“This would very much open the floodgates – we’ve got a system which appraises all of these types of things which gives them a fair chance of proving themselves. If products can’t legitimately prove themselves in a scientific and rational way they don’t deserve to be accepted.”
Prof Frankum said that the Health Australia Party wants to promote people’s health, but is going about it in entirely the wrong way.
“It says it wants to prioritise encouraging people to be healthy to combat chronic disease, when that is exactly what people like GPs and their practices are already doing,” he says.
“One of the biggest chronic disease threats facing Australia is the rises of diabetes and it is outright dangerous to be espousing the idea that a disease like that can be treated with alternative therapies.
“Unfortunately, in its policy document, the Health Australia Party descends into the conspiracy theory usually associated with the anti-vaccine movement.
“While its members have denied it is an anti-vaccination party, it certainly gives all the appearances of being part of that movement.
“It talks about the need for a thoroughly-researched vaccination program – as though the Australian immunisation schedule isn’t – and confuses the issue by saying this will help manage chronic disease.
“Immunisation is very effective in preventing the spread of infectious disease but can’t really help against conditions like diabetes, epilepsy, or other chronic diseases that come to mind.
“The Party also says it will seek out corruption in medical research, another hallmark of anti-vaccine-style conspiracy theory.
“Medical research is not incorruptible but it is very robust and people who are doing fraudulent research are rare and there are checks and balances that wind up exposing them.
“For instance, the work of disgraced former doctor, Andrew Wakefield, whose debunked research forms one of the bases for the anti-vaccination movement was found out.”