MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Nipah virus (NiV) infection is a zoonosis that causes severe disease in both animals and humans. The natural host of the virus are fruit bats of the Pteropodidae Family, Pteropus genus. Human-to-human transmission has also been documented, including in a hospital setting in India. Clinical presentations range from asymptomatic infection to acute respiratory syndrome and fatal encephalitis. There is no vaccine for either humans or animals. The primary treatment for human cases is intensive supportive care. In Kerala, India, several people have died of the deadly NiV.  The infection has a mortality rate of around 70%.

It was predictable that such events would bring homeopaths to the fore. This article explains:

The Indian Homeopathic Medical Association’s Kerala unit has claimed to have the medicines to treat Nipah virus. B Unnikrishnan, an association official, said homeopathy has the appropriate medicines for all types of fever and hence they should be allowed to treat the infected patients. The association has requested the state Health Minister KK Shailaja to allow their professionals to examine the records of all those patients who have been tested positive for Nipah… So far, 16 people have died and two are recovering. Some 2,000 people who came in contact with the infected patients are also being monitored.

Knowing that an international delegation of homeopaths travelled to Liberia to treat Ebola (with the official support of their respective professional organisations), this news cannot surprise anyone.

Homeopaths dilute their remedies and delude themselves.

Sadly, the victims of their dilutions/delusions are: 

  • their patients,
  • public health,
  • progress,
  • and rationality.

5 Responses to NIPAH EPIDEMIC: The hubris of homeopaths knows no bounds!

  • Ah, yes, India’s ubiquitous homeopathy once again presented as a viable, cheap, centuries-old and above all undemanding(*) and therefore widely available modality in less developed areas. And history shows us how successful this has been in comparison to the introduction of Western medicine.

    *: As in: not requiring any knowledge of disease, health, human physiology or anatomy whatsoever; one book for looking up symptoms is all you need to get going as a practitioner and claim the social respectability that a true healer is due.

    • China makes the most progress proportionally when I see the table linked by RichardR.

      Following this you can say: TCM (commonly used in China) brings good and effective healthcare.. But I think it is more likely to say that poverty and poor hygienic conditions have a bigger impact to the life expectancy than the receiving of regular ‘Western healthcare’ or TCM.
      If the Chinese do not ‘copy’ the junkfood overloaded supermarkets of Western countries, more progress can be made on the long term.. It would be very interesting to know what the percentage of chronic diseases is in China compared with Western European countries.

      I think that –essential– health care should focus on a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of chronic diseases. The regular health care in Western Europe and the US does not set a good example here. Awareness of these issues is absolutely necessary to keep health care affordable. Take a good look around you ….

      • “It would be very interesting to know what the percentage of chronic diseases is in China compared with Western European countries.”

        For a start try Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_disease_in_China) or this paper from the Lancet in 2005 (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673605673448). There are loads of scholarly studies on chronic disease in China and it’s pretty clear that the country is undergoing the same processes of urbanization with its health consequences as the West. This is coupled with a much higher rate of cigarette smoking than in the USA and Europe, so the incidence of chronic diseases associated with smoking is higher.

        “I think that –essential– health care should focus on a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of chronic diseases. The regular health care in Western Europe and the US does not set a good example here.”

        I can’t speak for the USA, but the extent to which Western European governments and health care professionals sing loudly from the same hymn book about healthy lifestyle, in particular diet and exercise, surely provides a good example?! People just seem not to get the message.

      • The developments in China are actually quite interesting. In the 1950’s, Mao started modernizing Chinese healthcare. Up until then, there wasn’t any organized healthcare, and ‘traditional Chinese medicine’ wasn’t effective at all – frankly, it was an appalling mess(*).
        Mao found that western medicine was far superior to what was going on in China, but the problem was twofold: there was a huge shortage of doctors with western medical training (and the few that were around preferred working in the cities, not the poor countryside); also, abandoning the traditional ways, useless as they were, would be a blemish on Mao’s Sinocentric ambitions. He solved both problems by inventing and promoting ‘Traditional Chinese Medicine’, while surreptitiously introducing western medicine. Local healers and even farmers received just a few months basic training in western medicine, along with some more traditional stuff, and got sent to where healthcare was needed most – they were Mao’s barefoot doctors. This policy was in large part the cause of the surge in life expectancy around 1965.
        This way, Mao introduced modern medicine while at the same time saving the reputation of Traditional Chinese Medicine (which also made it far more acceptable for the populace at large).
        But there is no doubt that the western part of this is responsible for the progress that was made. And oh, even Mao himself knew this too – he only accepted western-based treatments, rejecting TCM for himself. TCM was merely a political tool to get China to swallow his reforms.

        Unfortunately, many people still believe that TCM is effective, and the Chinese are also still promoting it, probably for reasons of self-esteem.

        *: A good read in this respect is Thirty Years in Moukden by Scottish physician Dugald Christie, even though this predates Mao. In particular the descriptions of real ‘traditional Chinese medicine’ are hair-raising (pp.31 and onwards).

  • Keep posting Edzard, reality is so refreshing!

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