Homeopaths offer services ‘to help fight’ Ebola epidemic in west Africa

Source: The Guardian from 2014

By Sarah Boseley, who is the health editor of the Guardian. She has won a number of awards for her work on HIV/Aids in Africa, including the One World Media award (twice) and the European section of the Lorenzo Natali prize, awarded by the European commission.

Scientists condemn homeopaths as ‘irresponsible’ and ‘cruel’ for offering victims false hope and for ‘putting lives at risk’

Homeopaths have offered their services to prevent and treat Ebola in west Africa, claiming their “remedies” can work in serious epidemics of infectious disease.

“Homeopaths worldwide have been mobilising their efforts toward gaining entrance in those countries affected,” the National Center for Homeopathy in the US said on its website. “The overriding goal is to investigate Ebola firsthand, and thereby determine which remedy or remedies are best for treating this disease.”

The organisation claims that homeopathic remedies have been used successfully in other disease epidemics in the past, naming cholera, diphtheria and hepatitis among others.

Scientists say there is no evidence that homeopathic remedies have any effect on the body, with the substances so heavily diluted that they are effectively water. But homeopathic clinics have been set up all over Africa, sometimes offering “cures” for such lethal diseases as Aids, tuberculosis and malaria.

“There is not a jot of evidence that homeopathic treatments are effective for any infection such as Ebola,” said Edzard Ernst, emeritus professor at the University of Exeter. “To happily offer affected patients false hope is cruel; to pretend that homeopathy cures Ebola is irresponsible; to travel to West Africa on a ‘homeopathic mission’ is to disclose the insane delusions that affect many homeopaths.”

In 2009, a group of young African and British doctors petitioned the World Health Organisation to speak out against homeopathy, which they believed was endangering lives. Under the auspices of the Voice of Young Science, part of the London-based Sense About Science organisation, they asked WHO to condemn the promotion of homeopathy for treating TB, infant diarrhoea, influenza, malaria and HIV.

“Homeopathy does not protect people from, or treat, these diseases,” they wrote. “Those of us working with the most rural and impoverished people of the world already struggle to deliver the medical help that is needed. When homeopathy stands in place of effective treatment, lives are lost.”

In response, WHO experts, backed by the director general, stated that they did not recommend homeopathy for any of those conditions.

There are currently no proven treatments for Ebola, which is killing 70% of those who are infected.

“Medics working with the most rural and impoverished people of the world already struggle to deliver the medical help that is needed,” said Victoria Murphy, programme manager of Sense About Science. “The promotion of homeopathy as effective or cheaper makes this difficult task even harder. It puts lives at risk, undermines conventional medicine and spreads misinformation. When homeopathy stands in place of effective treatment, lives are lost.”

One of the homeopathy clinics brought to the WHO’s attention in 2009 was the Amma Resonance Healing Foundation in Ethiopia, which offered homeopathy as “an ideal alternative and complement for the treatment of HIV/AIDS in developing countries”. The foundation, established in the Netherlands, is run by the British homeopath Peter Chappell. He and his colleague Harry van der Zee claim their homeopathic remedy can reverse Aids.

On their website, Van der Zee now urges supporters of homeopathy to sign the Change.org petition started in Australia, calling on WHO “to test and distribute homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks”.

Among the signatories is Steffan Browning, a Green Party MP in New Zealand. He was publicly dismissed by the prime minister John Key as “barking mad”.

“Let’s be honest, this is a serious global issue, and if he really thinks that’s the answer I’d love to see the medical research,” said Key.

Browning admitted “it was probably a bit unwise” to sign the petition, which he also shared on his Facebook page encouraging other people to sign it. He said he had signed it “pretty late at night”, although he hoped WHO would keep an open mind on potential treatment options, since there was currently no cure.

New Zealand’s health minister, Jonathan Coleman, however, said treating Ebola patients with homeopathic remedies was “a wacko idea”, adding: “I don’t know what he’s thinking, it’s very, very dangerous. I think he really needs to engage his brain, it’s a really and stupid dangerous idea.”

Reference

5 replies

  1. New Zealand’s health minister, Jonathan Coleman, however, said treating Ebola patients with homeopathic remedies was “a wacko idea”, adding: “I don’t know what he’s thinking, it’s very, very dangerous. I think he really needs to engage his brain, it’s a really stupid and dangerous idea.”

  2. Thank God. I think it is great. No one is stopping the Homeopaths to go to Africa and treat the Ebola patients. All power to them. They should do so quickly and save humanity from this disaster. I would also think that they will document their treatments so we can assign all the credit to them.
    But if they just want to get the credit as in the case of Hepatitis, then the world needs to know that it is a lie. Hepatitis B & C is an epidemic which has caused great suffering in the world. There is not one documented cure through Homeopathy.
    Con-men have always existed in this world. Snake oil and other remedies have been used to make a living. Can a good Homeopath answer a question? How would you know and diagnose a person with Ebola?
    Those who are seeking alternative treatments, here is a doctor for them. He cures everything!

  3. There is no need to comment without knowing the principles of Homoeopathy. If one thinks that Homoeopathy is rubbish then that is not true. It has its principles which are well recorded.
    The other system Allopathic has been much advanced by the use of X-ray and microscopes etc.
    The Homoeopaths find the illness by its symptoms. The Ebola patients may be cured if the Homoeopaths can study the illness of the patients, such as fever, pain, distress etc. That is all they have got. The homoeopathic medicines are also like injections but they work by reaction.
    God forbid if any homoeopathic medicine caused any action, then even the modern doctors will not be able to handle that case.
    Homoeopathic medicines can be used for TB and other complicated diseases. But it is a difficult science. Needs lot of knowledge and long practice to be successful.
    And it is cheap and useful way of treatment. Look at the charges and expenses under the Allopathic practice.
    In USA, all the great homoeopaths were MD (doctors of medicine.)

  4. For the believers the truth is most important. Let the evidence lead, where it may.

    There is some literature in allopathic medicine about benefit or lack there of, of homeopathy. Let us talk about that and weigh the evidence.

    Blind faith is for the non-Muslims not for the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him.

    Allah says in the Holy Quran, whatever is of benefit for mankind stays in earth:

    He sends down water from the sky, so that valleys flow according to their measure, and the flood bears on its surface swelling foam. And from that which they heat in the fire, seeking to make ornaments or utensils, comes out a foam similar to it. Thus does Allah illustrate truth and falsehood. Now, as to the foam, it goes away as rubbish, but as to that which benefits men, it stays on the earth. Thus does Allah set forth parables. (Al Quran 13:18)

    So, if homeopathy has some benefit, let us demonstrate it in ways that is not just anecdotal and not over state the case, as in that case the real benefits also become a suspect.

    There was a Peer (make belief saint) in Pakistan, who could promise a son rather than a daughter in exchange for a bag of rice and a goat. He was known as “Peer of a bag of rice and a goat.” He would pray for pregnant ladies. Now you know odds of having a son are fifty fifty. Those who had a son paid the Peer and those who had a daughter had other worries and never came to reprimand the Peer and if they did, Peer would have enough defense rhetoric that he prayed and then …

    There is something called placebo effect, if I start dispensing salt water for treatment of several ailments, thirty percent would improve and if I prescribed it for common cold all will improve in a few days. So, proof has to be better than this. Even Ebola may have mortality rate of fifty fifty and I can prescribe salt water with 50% success rate.

  5. Faith based medicine is in practice for as long as man has existed. Homeopathy is an example of that.
    So let some homeopath present evidence. (Not anecdote but scientific evidence)

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