Skeptic News: Homeopaths in Haiti

From: Boston.com

The first time nurse practitioner/homeopath Lauren Fox of West County Physicians went to Haiti was six months after the catastrophic earthquake hit Port-Au-Prince, a city of about 6 million people.

‘‘People were in emotional and mental shock,’’ she said. ‘‘They needed physical help. People were still walking around in a total daze. Some had lost their homes or their family. Some didn’t even know where they are.’’ ‘‘It has evolved since then,’’ Fox said.

Fox has been to Haiti three times since the 2010 earthquake, as a volunteer with Homeopaths Without Borders (HWB), a group that offers both homeopathic treatment and training in the use of homeopathic medicine.

Fox spent a week in early September both treating patients and helping train the first group of 15 students who are to graduate from HWB’s ‘‘Fundamentals Program,’’ a curriculum in homeopathic therapeutics. According to Fox, the students include nurses, medical students, pharmacists and a couple of community workers. She said the students spent 90 hours in a classroom and under supervision in a clinic setting.

‘‘We’re going to move this teaching project to another part of the island, in the mountains where there is no medical practice whatsoever,’’ she said. ‘‘The whole project is to get them to be teaching and to do clinics and run study groups.’’

When Homeopaths Without Borders sets up temporary clinics, people learn about the clinics through word-of-mouth. In these makeshift clinics, a dispensary is set up, and the available homeopaths, like Fox, have about 15 minutes per patient. With the shortage of medical providers in Haiti, those seeking help even include gravely ill people, with malaria or with the AIDS virus.

It is particularly concerning that this organisation is attempting to treat people with AIDS and Malaria with no scientific basis to assume their treatments will do anything at all.

Homeopaths without borders, or as I prefer to call them Medicine sans Medicine, could misguidedly be doing a lot more harm than good.

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