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Daily Click: WHO takes a stance on homeopathy

Guest blog by Katrina Ray, a PhD student at Imperial College, working as an intern at PLoS Medicine

The WHO declared last week that they did not recommend the use of homeopathy for treatment of HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, influenza or infant diarrhea. The organization was responding to pressure from the “Voice of Young Science” network, an association of young researchers and doctors, to clarify their stance on homeopathy for the treatment of these serious diseases.

In an open letter sent in June to the WHO, the researchers stated that homeopathy “puts lives at risk, undermines conventional medicine and spreads misinformation” and called on the WHO to issue a “clear international communication condemning the promotion of homeopathy for treating tuberculosis, infant diarrhoea, influenza, malaria and HIV”.

WHO experts responded accordingly; Dr Mario Raviglione, Director, Stop TB Department, WHO stated “our evidence-based WHO TB treatment/management guidelines, as well as the International Standards of Tuberculosis Care do not recommend use of homeopathy” and Joe Martines, on behalf of Dr Elizabeth Mason, Director of the Department of Child and Adolescent Health and Development, said “we have found no evidence to date that homeopathy would bring any benefit to the treatment of diarrhoea in children”.

Furthermore, experts congratulated the researchers and clinicians for bringing this issue to light. Dr Sergio Spinaci, Associate Director of the Global Malaria programme, thanked them for “the amazing documentation and for whistle-blowing on this issue”. Dr Teguest Guerma, Director Ad Interim of the HIV/AIDS department added that the Dept. of HIV/AIDS invested “considerable human and financial resources […] to ensure access to evidence-based medical information and to clinically proven, efficacious, and safe treatment for HIV/AIDS” and congratulated them for “their efforts to ensure evidence-based approaches to treating and caring for people living with HIV”.

Voice of Young Science, part of a programme run by Sense About Science (a British charity that promotes the public understanding of science), are now calling on health ministers worldwide to publicise the WHO stance on homeopathy in a bid to curb their use for treatment of these serious and dangerous diseases.

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