August 22, 2009

Group Aims To Discredit Homeopathic Treatments

The World Health Organization is warning against the use of homeopathic therapies to treat serious health conditions.

One group, the Voice of Young Science Network addressed a letter to WHO in June urging the organization to "condemn the promotion of homeopathy for treating TB, infant diarrhea, influenza, malaria and HIV."

"Homeopathy does not protect people from, or treat, these diseases," they added.

"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."

"We need governments around the world to recognize the dangers of promoting homeopathy for life-threatening illnesses," Dr Robert Hagan, a researcher in biomolecular science at the University of St Andrews, told BBC Health.

"We hope that by raising awareness of the WHO's position on homeopathy we will be supporting those people who are taking a stand against these potentially disastrous practices," said Hagan, a member of Voice of Young Science.

"Treatments, developed through rigorous, clinical testing are powerful tools with which to save lives," said Tom Wells, PhD student, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College London.

"To undermine their application by promoting alternatives, without evidence of efficacy, is irresponsible and dangerous. All people suffering with TB, malaria, influenza and the ravages of HIV deserve proven treatments, not false hope."

"Our evidence-based WHO TB treatment/management guidelines, as well as the International Standards of Tuberculosis Care do not recommend use of homeopathy," said Dr Mario Raviglione, director of the Stop TB department at the WHO.

They also petitioned against the use of homeopathy for diarrhea. But a WHO spokesman said they group has "found no evidence to date that homeopathy would bring any benefit."

"Homeopathy does not focus on the treatment and prevention of dehydration - in total contradiction with the scientific basis and our recommendations for the management of diarrhea."

In response, Paula Ross, chief executive of the Society of Homeopaths, said the comments mark yet another "poorly wrapped attempt to discredit homeopathy by Sense About Science."

"The irony is that in their efforts to promote evidence in medicine, they have failed to do their own homework," she told the BBC.


On the Net: