Aug 21 2009

WHO Says No to Homeopathy

The World Health Organization, which does not have a good track record when it comes to pseudoscience in medicine (being too much of a political organization), has recently made a number of statements against the use of homeopathy for HIV, TB, malaria, influenza, and infant diarrhea. The WHO was apparently pressured to take a clear position on the use of homeopathy by a group of UK physicians. In their press release today they state:

As a group of early-career medics and researchers from the UK and Africa, we wrote to the WHO in June this year raising concerns about the aggressive promotion of homeopathy for these serious diseases, which puts lives at risk (www.senseaboutscience.org.uk/index.php/site/project/331/).

We have received the following responses:

Dr Mario Raviglione, Director, Stop TB Department, WHO: “Our evidence-based WHO TB treatment/management guidelines, as well as the International Standards of Tuberculosis Care (ISTC) do not recommend use of homeopathy.”

Dr Mukund Uplekar: TB Strategy and Health Systems, WHO: “WHO’s evidence-based guidelines on treatment of tuberculosis…have no place for homeopathic medicines.”

Dr Teguest Guerma, Director Ad Interim, HIV/AIDS Department, WHO: The WHO Dept. of HIV/AIDS invests considerable human and financial resources […] to ensure access to evidence-based medical information and to clinically proven, efficacious, and safe treatment for HIV… Let me end by congratulating the young clinicians and researchers of Sense About Science for their efforts to ensure evidence-based approaches to treating and caring for people living with HIV.”

Dr Sergio Spinaci, Associate Director, Global Malaria Programme, WHO:Thanks for the amazing documentation and for whistle blowing on this issue… The Global Malaria programme recommends that malaria is treated following the WHO Guidelines for the Treatment of Malaria”. (These guidelines do not include any use of homeopathy.)

Joe Martines, on behalf of Dr Elizabeth Mason, Director, Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development, WHO: “We have found no evidence to date that homeopathy would bring any benefit to the treatment of diarrhoea in children…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 diarrhoea.”

The office of Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, stated on 14th August 2009 that these responses “clearly express the WHO’s position”.

This is good news, as homeopathy is dangerous quackery but deeply entrenched in Europe.

For more information on why homeopathy is nonsense here are a few posts I have written about it – here, here, and here.

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