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Alternative medicine promoted ahead of vote

Campaigners have called for a legal boost for homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and other alternative forms of medicine.

Voters will decide on May 17 whether to include alternative medical treatments in the list of services paid for by the mandatory health insurance.

Launching a campaign on Friday for such treatments to be enshrined in law, supporters said they were unlikely to put an additional financial strain on health costs and were not intended to compete with conventional medicine.

In 2005 the interior ministry, in charge of health matters, struck alternative medicines off the list, but surveys show that such healthcare methods are very popular.

Parliament later agreed alternative medicines should be given legal weight.

Whatever the outcome of the May vote, treatment methods will still be subject to licensing procedures by the authorities.

There are concerns that alternative medicines would prompt another increase in health insurance premiums, but no major political party or organisation has launched a challenge.

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