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Naturopathy and the Public Health System

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Naturopathy and the Public Health System

To discuss the role of Naturopathy in Public Health firstly we must define what Public Health is and how it came about. The principle of Public Health began in the 19th Century (Koplan, et al., 2009) in modern civilizations where people were living in cities and needed to rely on community for sanitation and infection control. Koplan et al (2009) discusses that public health is based on the following principles:

"(1) decision making based on data and evidence (vital statistics, surveillance and outbreak investigations, laboratory science); (2) a focus on populations rather than individuals; (3) a goal of social justice and equity; and (4) an emphasis on prevention rather than curative care."

Public Health involves the promotion of healthy lifestyles, research into diseases and their causes and analysis of the effects of internal and external factors on the health of the population (Association of Schools of Public Health, 2012).

Public health differs from conventional medicine in that it looks at the community in a healthy state and at the prevention of disease rather than curing it once it is prevalent in the person or community.

The public health principals fit closely with the principles of naturopathy, complementary and alternative medicine. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (2012) defines six principles that naturopaths base their practice on:

* Let Nature Heal

* Identify and treat causes

* First, do no harm

* Educate patients

* Treat the whole person

* Prevent Illness

The principles of identify and treat causes, prevent illness, educate patients and even treat the whole person, if we define the whole person as a whole community, echo the four principles defined by Koplan et al (2009). So by definition Naturopathy is an important part of Public Health System.

More and more people are turning to Naturopathy and Complementary and Alternative Medicine as an alternative to conventional medical treatments. MacLennon (cited in Siahpush, 1999, p266) found that 48.5% of respondents to his survey of 3,004 Australians had used at least one non-medically prescribed therapy in the past year. Siahpush (1999) also discussed the reasons why people were turning away from conventional medicine to alternative medicines. He suggested that people were dissatisfied with the medical outcome, dissatisfaction with the medical encounter and the emergence of a new set of values and beliefs.

Naturopathic treatments look at the person as a whole being, the practitioner looks at the whole person, issues that they may have in other areas that affect



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