Much of what is denounced as "political correctness" is in fact simple politeness: referring to groups of people using the terms they'd like to be named by; criticizing those who think humor is a license to say hurful things without social consequences; not shoving one's religion (or lack thereof) into the faces of others. Even in the actual cases where it goes too far, the harm is minimal. Idiots who invent euphemisms, or assert that Shakespeare is irrelevant to the English Department may inconvenience and annoy, but they don't kill.
Many academic health centers offer programs that include traditional Chinese treatments or Ayurvedic medicine from India. The University of New Mexico goes beyond that, says management of its new Center for Life.
"The uniqueness of our program is that we not only embrace Eastern and Western philosophies, but we try to integrate the traditions of New Mexico," said Dr. Arti Prasad, the center's director. Thus, Native American healers and Hispanic curanderas are invited to work with patients at the clinic.
As Respectful Insolence, linked above, notes, the "integration" of "traditional" medicine and new age "wellness" is becoming more and more of a multicultural fad in the world of academic, western medicine. These clinics are opening up all over the place, giving quacks the imprimatur of academic legitimacy. And by quacks, I don't mean the friendly chiropractor in the strip mall, who can make your lower back feel better now and then after a hard day of sitting on a wallet overstuffed with plastic. I mean people who claim to treat serious illness with
recuperative teas from exotic herbs and roadside weeds
and baby colic powder which includes lead among its ingredients.
These centers aren't actually "studying" alternative medicine in any scientific sense, because they're not producing peer-reviewed papers proving or disproving the efficacy of these dubious treatments. (At least, every time I've deposed or cross-examined one of the doctors in my area who combines Chinese medicine with western medicine, and there are a couple, he hasn't been able to point out a single study demonstrating the effectiveness of seven chakra oil, or mung bean elixir, or goldenseal powder. And he's gotten humiliated in the bargain.)
No, the real study of medicine goes on in the serious departments, like oncology and neurology. They're rather, simply providing the treatments, hopefully in a sane environment where real doctors can keep the witch doctors from going too far. And cleaning up on providing these treatments on a cheap outpatient basis.
The problem is that by providing any aid or comfort to this unscientific medicine, the academic hospitals enhance the perception among a gullible public that this stuff works, or that seeing a "healer" is equivalent to (ouch!) a prostate exam or a mammogram in warding off cancer. Of course, if you visit, say, Duke's "Integrative Medicine Clinic" with a bad case of rectal bleeding, you won't get biofeedback or magic powder. A real doctor will step in and whisk you off to the oncology clinic. But if you're a hundred miles down the road in say, Goldsboro North Carolina, the local "root doctor" or whatever he calls himself might not be so concerned about a malpractice suit.
Similarly for those of you in California, Stanford's "Complementary Medicine" clinic will refer you to an ophthalmologist immediately if you show signs of macular degeneration, whereas you'll go blind if you rely on the herbalist across the bay for a potion.
As for claims of long life among the people who are forced to accept this as medicine in the actual third world, it's not the witch doctors who are responsible. It's good diets of things like fish and vegetables for people who can't afford meat, and hard physical work, also known as exercise.
You can get a good diet and exercise yourself, without paying a shaman. But when you get that cancer anyway, as you will if you live long enough, your odds of detection are better with a mammogram or prostate check, and your odds of survival are better with targeted radiation and chemotherapy than with acupuncture or some extract of apricot pits sold by a company in Mexico.