The Council for Higher Education decided yesterday not to allow alternative medicine programs to bestow academic degrees.

It rejected several requests on the matter, saying there was no scientific basis for the practice.

A committee of experts from the council had previously recommended that the council approve a bachelor's degree program in alternative medicine.

The council had received two requests for acadameic recognition of alternative medicine programs, one from Reidman College, which sought academic recognition of its holistic health studies.

The other request came from the College of Management, which wanted to open an academic track of alternative medicine under the auspices of the Ben-Gurion University Medical School in Be'er Sheva.

Lack of supervision

There are an estimated tens of thousands of practitioners of various types of alternative medicine in Israel.

Due to lack of supervision, the complementary medicine market is open to charlatans who take advantage of consumers.

The council's committee of experts - headed by Professor Yaron Cohen, former head of the committee for quality evaluation of medical schools - had unanimously recommended the establishment of a B.A. track in the field.

It did so, the council said, because of the "many thousands of patients who visit practitioners of complementary medicine, and there is a need to protect the public from false prophets, from being taken advantage of economically and from the danger of ignoring the need for conventional medicine when necessary."

The committee was divided over whether the term "complementary medicine" should appear as the name of the program.

Eventually the members voted by a small majority that the words "complementary medicine" should not appear in that context, since "the scientific-academic basis for complementary medicine is controversial."

"Almost all studies show clearly that there is no scientific basis for alternative medicine," the council said yesterday.

While conceding that the various health maintenance organizations operate extensive alternative medicine treatment programs, they said "from that to academization is a very long way."