No alternative to closure for
complementary medicine centre

After trying for nearly 7 years to combine alternative and con-ventional methods of health care, Vancouver’s Tzu Chi Insti-tute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine was to closeMar. 31.
“It’s a terrible shame,” said executive director Barbara Findlay.
“Just when the institute’s research was showing the tremendousimpact we could have on the health of people living with chronic Pfizer, Lipitor
illness, funding was pulled in favour of acute care.” The chair of the institute’s board, Tim Kerr, said the prob- lems began in spring 2002 when the BC Ministry of Healthdecided to slice the institute’s operating grant. “Our ministry- 1/2 page vertical
funded partners followed suit,” he said. “That represented al-most half of our budget.” Kerr said the institute tried to cope by making substantial staffing and operational cuts, and had hoped for increased rev- 4 clr., New
enue from new services, memberships and charitable dona-tions. “Those revenue sources simply did not materialize fastenough,” he said.
The institute was the first and only organization of its kind in Canada. A registered charity, it was founded in 1996 thanks to a$2-million gift from the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu ChiFoundation Canada. The institute itself was a centre for treat-ment, research and education involving alternative medicine,with an underlying aim to incorporate alternative practices intomainstream health care. “We [worked] with people to bring outtheir own innate healing ability,” said Findlay. “We have beenadvocates for change in the way health care is offered. It will nowbe up to others to carry this torch.” — Brian Whitwham, CMAJ WHO updates vCJD toll
One hundred and thirty-nine cases of variant
Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD) have been documented
since the first case was reported in March 1996, the World
Health Organization says. Only 1 case, involving a podiatrist
who studied in England, has been reported in Canada (CMAJ
2002;167[6]:680). By November 2002, 129 cases had been re-
ported in the United Kingdom, 6 in France, and 1 each in Ire-
land, Italy and the US.
WHO says the vCJD cases are proving far different from the classical presentation of CJD because younger people arebeing affected (average age of 29 years vs. 65 years) and thereis a longer duration of illness (14 months vs. 4.5 months).
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the cattle-borne dis- ease thought responsible for the spread of vCJD in humans,had been confirmed in 181 376 cattle in the UK by November2002; only 3286 cases have been reported in all other coun-tries, and none in Canada.
However, concern about vCJD is so widespread that WHO (, click on Media Centre) has issued a
list of 8 questions consumers should ask if worried about in-
fection. — CMAJ


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