Homeopathy movement “neither helpful nor humanitarian” suggests senior researcher

(Published 17 September 2013)

Personal view: Homeopaths Without Borders practise exploitation not humanitarianism

Today on bmj.com a senior researcher from the Institute for Biomedical Ethics criticises the campaigning group that wants to help the world’s most vulnerable people with homeopathy.

David Shaw says that although the movement Homeopaths without Borders has received a “great deal of criticism in recent years for unethical practices”, it has gone “entirely unmentioned” in medical literature. He says this is surprising given that the campaign is “engaged in activity even more dubious than that of most homeopaths”.

Homeopaths without Borders seeks to promote itself in countries where it does not already have a foothold. Shaw says the Kenyan example, which implies that homeopathy can save lives, is “shocking” and something which no mainstream organisation has claimed for several years.

The Homeopaths without Borders North American group sent several homeopaths to help the people affected by the Haiti earthquake but according to Shaw, “people affected by massive earthquakes cannot benefit from homeopathy any more than people living safely in London”. He adds that it might even harm patients by making them believe that they do not need to seek usual treatment for injuries or disease.

Shaw says that following the earthquake, more Haitians will believe in a “discredited system of ‘medicine’ making long term harm more likely than if the campaign had not got involved in the first place”.

He believes that Homeopaths without Borders North America “exploit developing countries” and is happy to suggest that homeopathic therapies can also help in pregnancy care and delivery.

Homeopaths without Borders also ask for monetary donations, which Shaw believes seems “somewhat pointless” given that there is no evidence for its efficacy and as such it may be diverting money away from “genuinely humanitarian organisations”.

Dr Shaw concludes that “homeopathy is neither helpful nor humanitarian” and is exploiting those “in need of genuine aid”.

Contact:
Personal View: David M Shaw, Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel, Switzerland
Tel: +44 (0)7790141063
Email: david.shaw@unibas.ch