Volume 90, Issue 74

Wednesday, February 05, 1997



Western prof to operate on health system

By Sara Marett
Gazette Staff

Western's faculty of medicine can put another notch of achievement in its belt as a professor has been given the opportunity to influence the direction of medical treatment in Ontario.

Dr. Rob Alder, an associate professor in the faculty of medicine and a epidemiologist at the Middlesex-London Health Unit, has recently been appointed to Ontario's Health Professions Regulatory Advisory Council for a two-year term. The panel makes decisions and reports to the Minister of Health concerning the regulation of medical practices.

"The primary object of [the council] is to regulate the health profession in the interest of the public," Alder said. The council investigates a non-regulated practice such as acupuncture in order to determine whether the procedures used are safe and effective. The group then decides whether the practice should be recognized by the province as a regulated profession.

Once a practice becomes regulated it is then eligible to be considered for coverage under the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, Alder said.

Christie Jefferson, chair of the council, said Alder is the third new member of the eventual five to seven-member council to be appointed for the next two years, after which a new council will be appointed. "Dr. Alder has the range of expertise that will be useful for the council," she said. "His experience in epidemiology, community health care and the international sphere will add to his understanding of the issues at hand."

She added Alder expressed interest in being a member of the council and was then selected by the Minister of Health's office.

Practices which fall into the category of alternative medicine have recently become more accepted by society, Alder said. "The public has a right to access an array of professions, but it must first be determined if they are effective," he added.

One criteria for approval of a medical practice is how it measures up against a comparable regulated practice, Alder said. "A patient would be treated with both practices in order to determine if the new method is equal or more effective than the traditional one."

Alder said the council will incorporate public input into their decisions. "There will be public hearings at Queen's Park to gain general input. The council is not just a research body."

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Copyright The Gazette 1997