Call to pay for massages

Therapeutic massages with fragrant oils for hospital patients should be covered by medical schemes.

This is according to Aroma SA in one of 68 submissions to the Competition Commission, which is reviewing difficulties facing the private health sector and the factors that lead to rising costs.

The law prevents massage therapists, chiropractors and aromatherapists from working in the same premises as medical professionals, such as doctors and dentists.

But therapists are allowed in hospitals if requested by a patient.

AromaSA says the fact that medical aids will not pay for such services limits the number of patients it can help. The submission says massage with fragrant oils can help prevent bed sores.

Also, research is taking place at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town “on the enhancing effect of therapeutic aromatherapy massage on hospitalised children, particularly burn victims”.

Chiropractors, reflexologists, homeopaths and massage therapists also get limited funding from medical aids.

This, says the Allied Health Professions Council of SA, denies patients the choice of their preferred treatment.

Resolution Health principal officer Mark Arnold said there was “insufficient scientific data to demonstrate the efficacy of many alternative or natural healthcare treatments”.

-Katharine Child

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