In Romania, people in urban areas, especially in Bucharest, are more likely to use treatment with natural products. Natural products are used as first choice treatment primarily “because they are natural”. In 2009, seven percent of the population had used CAM within the last 12 months.
This can be read in one of the relatively few studies done in Romania on attitudes towards CAM: “Habits and attitudes towards treatments in Romania”. The study was developed as part of a “GfK Omnibus”, a survey on a national representative sample of 1636 respondents from urban and rural areas aged 15 years and over, conducted between 12th and 23rd January 2009.
CAM treatments are used mostly by women of medium and higher education; drug treatments, by comparison, are used mostly by women of low education (8th grade or less) older than 60 years of age. The respondents state e.g. that CAM treatments are “trustworthy” and “have few adverse effects”.
Homeopathic treatments are used mostly by residents of the capital Bucharest, but only few people choose homeopathy as first choice treatment. However, the main reason why they are chosen as first choice treatment is that they are considered natural and reliable. Previous experience with these products is also taken into account. Romanians prefer to use homeopathic treatments mainly for diseases such as colds and digestive disorders because they strengthen immunity.
In Romania the legislation regarding the practice of different therapies is very permissive, even though there are no accredited trainers and no official certification for many CAM therapies. Citizens’ rights and access to CAM therapies are regulated by law (118/2007). Patients under CAM treatment must receive written information, accessible and easy to understand, in order to know the benefits and risks. People who consult a CAM practitioner should consent to the CAM treatment in writing, and they are assured confidentiality regarding their health problems.
The practice of acupuncture, homeopathy, apitherapy, phytotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy and TCM is allowed only to MDs, dentists and pharmacists and is regulated by the Ministry of Health. Within the CAM Medical Practitioners Order, specialised committees for certain areas of practice (e.g. acupuncture, herbal therapy, homeopathy, apitherapy) are bound to regulate professionals.
Between 1990 and 2010, 1,600 MDs participated in certified acupuncture training at the National Center for Training in Bucharest, 1,400 did so for homeopathy, 500 for apiphytotherapy and 90 for ayurveda (continuous medical education only). As an example, in Timis county, 203 out of 3,860 registered physicians (5%) are accredited for CAM practice.
Practitioners without a diploma of MD, dentist or pharmacist are authorised to practice all CAM therapies (except those allowed only to MDs) after a short special training accredited by the Ministry of Health. Both MD and non-MD practitioners of CAM are organised in professional societies and associations, and they arrange annual congresses and meetings where best practices and opinions are shared.
In medical schools or faculties of pharmacy, students can take optional courses in homeopathy, phytotherapy or acupuncture, but none of the CAM modalities is taught in the core curriculum. Attempts are being made to arrange postgraduate courses in integrative medicine, accredited by the Romanian College of Physicians and addressed mainly to general practitioners.