Today the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine has issued a report that shows that Americans spend $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicine per year.
This is the figure that people spend on such things as homeopathy ($3B), yoga and qi gong ($4B) and non vitamin supplements ($15B). The report does not include purchases of vitamin and mineral supplements and estimates suggest this could triple this spend.
The NCCAM has spent nearly a billion pounds on researching CAM and has failed to demonstrate the efficacy of any complementary medicine. Yes, its all quackery and these Americans are wasting their money.
So, $34 billion is a big number. Let’s try to put that into perspective:
- Achieving the the WHO–UNICEF Global Immunization Vision and Strategy for 2006–2015 would cost US$35 billion over those years. Children throughout the world need not die of measles, diphtheria, polio and other killers.
- Putting all America 3 and 4 year old children through preschool education and thus reducing the need for remedial and special education, welfare and criminal justice services would cost $25 billion to $39 billion.
- Nearly 46 million Americans do not have health insurance and do not have the access to health care services that the rest of the civilised world enjoys. $34 billion would ensure there was cover for the uncompensated care that hospitals deliver every year. It would also provide about a third of these people with good health insurance cover.
- To reach the United Nations Development Programme Millennium Development Goals of halving the proportion of people without access to safe water or sanitation worldwide by 2015 about $30 billion needs to be spent annually.
More than one billion people in the world could have about a 10% pay rise as they only earn a dollar a day.
Malaria kills several million each year, the majority being children in Africa. It has been estimated that only $3 billion could bring this under control, sparing another $12 billion to remove the economic impact of lost work days, lost education and lack of development in malarial areas.
I am glad we have our priorities sorted out.