17 May 2010
Homeopathy, the second–largest growing alternative therapy in the world, has been termed ’witchcraft’ by the British
Medical Association (BMA). The BMA has held that homeopathy is unscientific and urged the United Kingdom’s
National Health Service (NHS) not to pay for people opting for this treatment until there is evidence that it works.
Taking umbrage at a BMA motion to this effect, the Homeopathic Medical Association of India (HMAI) has said that the BMA feels threatened by the growing popularity of this branch of medicine. Such statements would not affect the growth of homeopathy across the world, it said.
"It is a cheap and highly efficacious therapy. Perhaps members with vested interest in the BMA are threatened by the popularity of homeopathy. Even pharmaceutical companies are threatened by it," said Dr Bhaskar Bhatt, secretary general, HMAI. Doctors in the Indian Medical Association (IMA) too have claimed from time to time that homeopathy
is harmful, he added.
Rejecting the BMA claim, S Jalaja, secretary, department of Ayush – ayurveda, yoga, unani, siddha, homeopathy – of the Union government said all this is wrong propaganda.
Royal backing for alternative therapy
Prince Charles, himself a long–term user of homeopathy and an advocate of complementary therapies, had first advocated non–conventional medicine to the BMA in 1982 had advised BMA doctors to end their "hostility to the unorthodox" therapies and accept that there were altenatives to " the objective, statistical,computerrised approach to healina the sick".
``Homeopathy is a scientifically validated system of medicine with a huge following across the world. It is wrong to say that it is witchcraft.
In fact, none of the Indian systems of medicine is wrong. Homeopathy has also given desired results to people,’’ he said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), homeopathy is the second largest growing therapy in the world.
While France is its biggest market, homeopathy is particularly popular in Germany, England, Belgium and Holland.
"It is a proven medicine and there is nothing ’witchy’ about it," said Dr Rajesh Rambhiya, homeopathic physician who runs Vishesh Clinic, a paediatric speciality centre at Matunga. "So many practitioners of allopathy, who take homeopathy themselves, refer their patients to me," he added.
Dr Mukesh Batra, founder of Dr. Batras’ Positive Health Clinic Private Limited and a homeopath, who has a clinic in London’s Harley Street, said: "It’s wrong to ridicule any system and throw it out of the window." Instead of dumping this system of medicine, Batra said, in Britain they should implement better regulations, introduce proper teaching institutions and make sure that quacks don’t practice it.
"The problem in the UK could be the fact that the practitioners are not well qualified. While in India, a basic course in homeopathy takes five and half years, in the UK, there are six–month courses available," said Dr Ashok Tipre, a practitising homeopath.
Practitioners in Kolkata have reacted strongly. They said it was a deliberate attempt by a section of the medical practitioners to malign homeopathy.
City–based practitioner and joint secretary general (organisation) of the HMAI, Dr SK Mukherjee told DNA that such remarks were vague.
"In India, over 20 crore individuals have accepted homeopathy as an effective form of treatment." He said that as per statistics of the HMAI, the popularity of homeopathy is quite high not only India but also in the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and especially Bangladesh.
"Even the medical community in USA and London are taking homeopathy seriously and every year many aspiring doctors come to India to get the education to become qualified homeopaths," Dr Mukherjee said.
Another city–based homeopath, Dr Gopal Bhattacharjee, said the BMA’s statement is best ignored. "BMA is not the ultimate body to define which stream of medicine is effective and which is not," he said.
–With inputs from Deepa Suryanarayan in Mumbai, Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri in Kolkata, Vineeta Pandey in Delhi and Agencies