Baja California Health Department Begins Shutting Down ‘Alternative Treatment’ Centers
Health inspectors for the Baja California health department have closed down at least six "alternative treatment centers" near Tijuana this year as part of a "crackdown" on such facilities, the Los Angeles Times reports. The clinics were closed for violating sanitation standards and other problems. In the most recent case, officials shut down the San Martin Clinic in Tijuana, just two weeks after closing it for offering experimental treatments without prior research. The Times reports that the clinic used chicken liver extracts and guinea pig tissue in injections as part of an alternative cancer treatment. Many U.S. cancer specialists view such treatments as "wholly unreliable and even dangerous." Despite orders from health inspectors barring the clinic from accepting new patients after the first closure, the clinic resumed operations, prompting the second shutdown. According to the Baja health department, approximately 50 alternative treatment centers "are mixed among" the 500 clinics the department oversees with its 30 inspectors, including some clinics that have operated for years without being registered with health authorities. According to Alfredo Gruel, a physician in charge of overseeing health regulations for the department, the unsanctioned clinics, which treat "mostly American" patients, "blossomed" because of "lax oversight." The department is now enforcing a "crackdown" as part of a "wider push to clean up Baja's health facilities," and plans to add inspectors to assist with the effort. "The Baja California health department is not against alternative medicine," Gruel said, adding, "We want people to come to Tijuana to be treated. We want them to be treated fully and well" (Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times, 8/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.