WHO warns against homeopathy use

People with conditions such as HIV, TB and malaria should not rely on homeopathic treatments, the World Health Organization has warned.

It was responding to calls from young researchers who fear the promotion of homeopathy in the developing world could put people’s lives at risk.

The group Voice of Young Science Network has written to health ministers to set out the WHO view.

WHO TB experts said homeopathy had “no place” in treatment of the disease.
In a letter to the WHO in June, the medics from the UK and Africa said: "We are calling on the WHO to condemn the promotion of homeopathy for treating TB, infant diarrhoea, influenza, malaria and HIV.

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

"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.”

Dr Robert Hagan is a researcher in biomolecular science at the University of St Andrews and a member of Voice of Young Science Network, which is part of the charity Sense About Science campaigning for “evidence-based” care.

He said: "We need governments around the world to recognise the dangers of promoting homeopathy for life-threatening illnesses.

“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.”

‘No evidence’

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

The doctors had also complained that homeopathy was being promoted as a treatment for diarrhoea in children.

But a spokesman for the WHO department of child and adolescent health and development said: "We have 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 diarrhoea.”

Dr Nick Beeching, a specialist in infectious diseases at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, said: "Infections such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis all have a high mortality rate but can usually be controlled or cured by a variety of proven treatments, for which there is ample experience and scientific trial data.

“There is no objective evidence that homeopathy has any effect on these infections, and I think it is irresponsible for a healthcare worker to promote the use of homeopathy in place of proven treatment for any life-threatening illness.”


Via Richard Wiseman

Don’t know how much attention will be paid to this, but it’s a good thing.

This really is good news. At least it’s a start and the unethical work of people like Jeremy Sherr will not be tolerated by the WHO. Perhaps then the various African Health ministries will sit up and take note and start to demand clinical evidence of efficacy rather than the empty promises they have received to date before risking the lives of the population.

Once the world notices that homoeopaths are wrong on one, then two, then more of their previous assertions of efficacy, their available market for diseases will shrink until all they are dealing with is subjective conditions like unease, moodiness or mild headaches. I have no quibble with people using homoeopathy for simple subjective conditions as long as it isn’t a symptom of a condition for which evidence-based medical treatment should be sought.

But this slippery slope argument (at least in a positive direction for a change) has no basis in reality - I can dream though.


While this is great news, one must not underestimate the power of personal “experience.” By far the majority of CAM supporters we have encountered argue that they have tried it (whatever modality “it” might be) and that it “definitely works” for them. End of argument. It doesn’t make any difference at all pointing out the manifold different ways that we can deceive ourselves in regards to medical questions when we are both sufferer and observer. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc is a large part, perhaps the largest, of why CAM persists.


It’s more powerful than you think.

Denial looks really stupid. So stupid, it burns. Opposition just digs a bigger hole for teh homeopaths to fall into.