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Homeopaths Without Borders practice exploitation not humanitarianism

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f5448 (Published 17 September 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5448
  1. David M Shaw, senior research fellow, Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
  1. david.shaw{at}unibas.ch

David M Shaw criticises the proselytising of a group that wants to provide homeopathy to some of the world’s most vulnerable people

Although homeopathy has received a great deal of criticism in recent years for unethical practices,1 the movement Homeopaths Without Borders has gone almost entirely unmentioned in the medical literature. This is somewhat surprising, given that the campaign is engaged in activity even more dubious than that of most homeopaths. It has quite a long history, with several different national associations. Here I focus on the German and North American groups and briefly describe some of their activities and their potentially harmful effects.

The centrepiece of the 15th anniversary conference of Homeopaths Without Borders Germany was a debate on the question “Does the call for scientific evidence entitle to refuse[sic] homeopathic humanitarian help?”2

The group’s website provides some examples of its work: “In Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia there now are active associations for classical homeopathy. Well-trained doctors and therapists practice homeopathy there with great success. In Kenya traditional midwives learned to save lives by using homeopathy in difficult deliveries if there is no hospital available. Thus health care for the local population is being increased and qualified jobs are being …

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