A Tale of two countries and their homoeopaths

First of all, Sweden now has a homoeopathic emergency room staffed by people who don’t know anything about medicine.

It is part of the Salve Health Center situated at the Maria Square in central Stockholm and it opened its doors in early January of this year. Behind the initiative stands three women: Carita Bramstedt, Päivi Barsk and Viveca Wilhelmsson. All of them either run their own homeopathic practices or “education” programs in homeopathy.

Author Emil Karlsson goes on to describe the lack of qualifications by the homoeopaths who have established this clinic.

Swedish Radio (SR) published a credulous interview steeped in false balance with some of the partners involved in the homeopathic ER. Wilhelmsson claims that they will focus on acute conditions, such as “throat infections, eye infections, sinus infections, cough and pneumonia”. She claims that they will not treat life-threatening conditions.

Anyone who lists pneumonia as something that is not life threatening, is not someone I would want providing medical care.  

In the UK, often considered a bastion of alt-med, Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee came out with a report on homoeopathy that is somewhat less than flattering.

Today the Science and Technology Select Committee delivered its verdict on homeopathy and it was devastating. The committee has called for the complete withdrawal of NHS funding and official licensing of homeopathy.

It’s not only homoeopaths that receive the criticism. The Committee slams the  regulators as well.

The government, and in particular the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, which licenses drugs and oversees labelling), also come in for some strong criticism from the committee. Both stand accused of hypocrisy for paying lip-service to the importance of evidence-based medicine while allowing special exemptions for dubious practices.

In the words of the committee, the government’s position on homeopathy is “confused”. It accepts that homeopathy is effectively a placebo, but allows it to be practised within the NHS without considering the ethics of prescribing placebos to patients.

Anyone who is at all familiar with the approval of Natural Health Products in Canada can see the similarities with the UK approach to regulations. We’ll have to wait and see if this report has any wider implications in licensing homoeopaths and their products, but it’s at least a move in the right direction.

Perhaps someday we’ll see science make it to the policy level.

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