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By Helen Greig

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, May 9) – Medical concerns have been raised over alternative diagnoses and treatments administered by the Better Health Research Center in Maraerenga, Cook Islands.

The Cook Islands Medical and Dental Council is looking into the center’s practices.

Council chairman Dr Rangiau Fariu says the council has concerns over the alternative and unorthodox treatment methods used by the center.

He says one of these is that patients have been advised by the center to cease taking prescription medication for conditions like diabetes.

Fariu says there have been a couple of cases of people receiving a diagnosis from the center, which medical tests ruled out afterwards. He says the center has reportedly diagnosed a case of diabetes and another of ovarian cancer that caused patients to be tested at a hospital where they found they were not suffering from these conditions at all.

"They have some electronic gadgets there and we have asked for evidence from scientific trials of the machines, were they unable to provide that."

Fariu says the council has no problem with the use of the devices at the center but says they should not be preventing patients from taking medication and should not be making diagnoses. He says patient safety must be taken into account.

Health secretary Dr Roro Daniel says the ministry itself has no mandate to stop the business from operating. He says the council is looking into the center because of concerns raised about it.

Richard Wachter, who co-owns the center, says he and his colleague Dr Mata Strickland have both provided information to the council on the center’s operations.

"I was invited to come to one of their meetings and I explained what I do. They have to make sure these things are bonafide. I think we satisfied their curiosity," says Wachter.

He says they discussed the center’s treatment of dengue fever with the council, as they have a machine that can cure it.

He said, "Traditional medicine has no cure for it – alternative medicine has. I've treated hundreds of people with dengue in the past seven months."

Fariu says one of their only concerns with Strickland were his lemon juice cure claims in 2002 as then doctor for Aitutaki. At the time, speaking to Cook Islands News, Strickland credited lemon or limejuice taken three times a day as the reason for fewer cases of hypertension on the island. He said there was also another 'miracle cure' – the mile-a-minute creeper – which could be used as an antibiotic and a cure for diabetes.

Fariu says the council is there to monitor and follow up complaints mostly in regards to General Practitioners in private practice, as they don't have much control over those practicing alternative or Maori medicine.

The council members include three ministry of health officials, a General Practitioner, a member of the public and Daniel as an ex-officio member.

He says the council is looking at how they can regulate alternative medical practitioners, but so far they can only try and resolve any concerns patients may have with them.


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