World Naturopathic Federation

World Naturopathic Federation – Wellpark College helping achieve global goals for Naturopathy

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For some time there have been discussions within the Naturopathic community regarding the integration of Naturopathy into main stream health care. Steps towards making this vision a reality are now underway.

At the International Congress of Naturopathic Medicine held in Paris in 2014 Wellpark College’s Principal Phillip Cottingham, along with representatives from Australia, Spain, France, Canada and the USA formed the Interim committee of the World Naturopathic Federation (WNF).

During that meeting the committee worked on the organisations structure, documents and rules, with a decision being made to meet again in July 2015 at the Health Fusions Conference held in Calgary, to work on collaborative strategies.

Wellpark College’s Academic Leader Jill Dunn accompanied Phillip Cottingham to the meeting in Canada to meet with 9 full-member country representatives from Africa (1), Eastern Mediterranean (1), Europe (4), North America (2) and the Western Pacific (1) regions.

For each country, there can be only one full-member naturopathic organisation that is required to meet the following criteria:

  • Gain Government recognition of Naturopathy.
  • Have full representation of the Naturopathic profession.
  • Offer the highest possible education standards and qualifications in Naturopathy (ideally a degree program).
  • Gain a commitment towards Naturopaths becoming primary health care providers.

The WNF are aiming for representation of Naturopathic medicine worldwide, they propose to promote Naturopathic Medicine in order to achieve;

  • Governmental recognition and support of statutory regulations and licencing.
  • International organisations raising the standard of Naturopathic Medicine worldwide.
  • To have Naturopathic Medicine perceived as an excepted health care choice rather than an alternative form of medicine.

Naturopathy has a growing public following, with many people using it as their first choice of health care; however there is a lagging behind with acceptance from the regulatory world, the academic world and the medical world. The biggest stumbling block that the Naturopathic community faces is the issue of evidence.  There is a growing body of evidence to support Naturopathy, however it is only now with the forming of the committee that a political stance is being taken.

The Calgary meeting was to affirm the purpose of the WNF and to elect an executive committee.  Jill Dunn, Wellpark Colleges Academic leader is the New Zealand representative.

The 3 projects agreed upon by the committee in Calgary were;

  • Codifying the philosophies, history and principles of Naturopathic Medicine – A project that Wellpark College Principal Phillip Cottingham is involved with and hopes to have completed within 18 months.
  • A Mapping Project – Analysis of the education and regulations of Naturopathy and comparing these with conventional medicine. A project headed up by Jill Dunn with an aim for completion within 1-2 years.
  • Research / Meta-Analysis  – an ongoing project looking at key areas of health such as diabetes & cardiovascular health and collecting and submitting supporting Naturopathic research and evidence, including; general effectiveness cost effectiveness and comparative effectiveness against other health areas.

The WNF has since had Egypt and Portugal join with other countries in the application process. All member countries join with strengths and weaknesses. India and some States of the US already have licencing and regulations in place and are able to offer longer education programs.

Australasia is strong in the field of education and in the depth of herbal medicine taught within Naturopathic education, but has progress to make in terms of extending the education programme in order to obtain primary health care status.

Wellpark College’s key strength is evidence based critical thinking. Wellpark College has incorporated evidence from research into their curriculum, both from Naturopathic traditions and science, this is incorporated throughout the entire Naturopathic program and into the clinical program. Students in the clinical programme search both scientific and naturopathic literature in development of client treatment plans and use validated clinical outcome measures as a measurable tool of change. This education model has been shared with other countries to encourage a high standard of Naturopathic education.

Hopefully New Zealand Naturopaths will see the benefits of the WNF goals and support the planned projects. Full commitment and resourceful people are needed to ensure success. Wellpark College is an education member of the WNF and is fully committed to the goals of the organisation. Jill Dunn has been a driving force in the application of NZAMH (New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists) for statutory regulation.

The long term vision for the committee is that any country that has a Naturopathic profession will become part of the World Naturopathic Federation with the aim of Naturopathy gaining integration into main stream health care and having representation at the World Health Organisation. There is a long way to go on this journey, but the forming of the WNF and the commitment from the founding 11 member countries to collaboratively embark on the above projects is a massive step forward.  The next step is to gain support from all Naturopathic colleges and professional Naturopathic associations worldwide. There are challenges ahead both from within the profession and from the sceptics; however Phillip Cottingham is optimistic that within 30 years Naturopathy will secure its place in main stream health care.

Phillip Cottingham & Jill Dunn

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Written by Nikki Morgan.