A petition calling for the World Health Organisation (WHO) to “test and distribute homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the (Ebola) outbreaks” is unlikely to gain much traction, given that the WHO, in August 2009, made statements indicating that homeopathy was not an effective treatment for diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhoea or HIV infection.
Unfortunately, Green MP Steffan Browning does not seem to have been aware of this when he signed an on-line petition, asking the WHO to consider treating Ebola with homeopathy. Since this revelation the Green party has distanced themselves these comments with Greens co-leader Russell Norman stating that “There are many New Zealanders who use homeopathy but I think even they would say it’s not the right thing to use for Ebola. It’s not something we support and it’s not Green Party Policy.” Mr Browning has also back pedalled his position suggesting it was “unwise” to sign the petition. However, it is noticeable that both Mr Browning and Dr Norman have been very careful in how they have worded their response so as not to offend those who believe in homeopathy.
The petition demonstrates a naivety about medicine and homeopathy with the petitioners requesting
We call on those within WHO in positions of authority and influence to:
1. Look at homeopathy’s record in the treatment and prevention of serious epidemic disease
2. Engage with qualified representatives from the homeopathic profession to formally identify the best-indicated remedies
3. Test those remedies to determine which are best for the treatment and prevention of Ebola
4. Obtain supplies of those remedies from waiting and concerned homeopathic pharmacies
5. Bring the outbreaks under control by distributing these remedies as quickly as possible throughout the affected areas.
Finally, please end the suffering of those in the Ebola crisis by using the tried and proven homeopathic option.
Repeated studies of homeopathy have already demonstrated that when it is tested properly it has no noticeable effect beyond the placebo effect, and when it is used instead of effective medicines it can put people’s lives at risk. Many of those who accept homeopathy may also be doing so under the misapprehension that it is a herbal medicine. It is not.
Homeopathy is based on a series of nonsensical suppositions. First, that a disease can be treated by using a substances that causes the same symptoms. Second, that by diluting this substance to the extent that none of the existing material remains, it creates a cure, and the more you dilute it the more effective it is as a treatment. Third, that between dilutions the striking (succussing) of the container in a certain way somehow transfers curative properties to the water.
Homeopathy arose 200 years ago, when medicine was still developing and was steeped in myth rather than science. At a time when doctors prescribed toxic concoctions such as mercury and arsenic salts and regularly bled patients, a magical bottle of water may have indeed been your best option for survival. However, modern medicine has now advanced to treat many diseases, diseases which homeopathy has not managed to treat in spite of having 200 years to do so. To now suggest that homeopathy is an appropriate way to combat Ebola is naive and dangerous.