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malaria – DC's Improbable Science

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malaria

Malaria in the news, yet again.

Today I had a not-very-friendly letter from Kate Birch

From: kate birch <katebhom@hotmail.com>

To: david colquhoun <d.colquhoun@ucl.ac.uk>

Subject: FW: Abha Light Products: Announcing NEW MalariX InfoSheet

As I said we keep on working. while you and your kangaroo committee put on a good show. Try to take this one to the cleaners and more and more people will begin to see the fools that you really are. I hope western medicine saved you for your health crisis but that maybe when you depart you will see the how your bitterness twisted things and made you suffer so.

You may recall the expose in which homeopaths in the UK were caught, in 2006, recommending their sugar pills for prevention of malaria, Lethal advice from homeopaths about malaria prevention

You may remember the saga of the taking down of Andy Lewis’s classic post in 2007 on The Gentle Art of Homeopathic Killing

Despite all this, in 2008, the trendy Covent Garden company, Neal’s Yard, tried marketing a homeopathic malaria "remedy". The quackometer’s post Neal’s Yard Remedies Offers Lethal Homeopathic Malaria Advice is a corker. Under pressure they withdrew the “remedy” (see Neal’s Yard Ethical Bullshit Remedy . Eventually Neal’s Yard was censured by the MHRA ( Neal’s Yard Remedies ‘rapped by medicines regulator’ )

Then there was Kate Birch of the North American Society of Homeopaths, who advocates sugar pills for every disease under the sun (and follow-up to these claims).   Memorably, she visited me in late 2007 and gave me a copy of her book. A visit from Kate Birch sitll comes top of the front page if you google ‘kate birch homeopath’.

Attached to the unfriendly letter was a web page from Abha Light. It is an advertisement for a homeopathic malaria treatment. As far as I can see, it doesn’t say anywhere what the “remedy” contains, but that doesn’t matter if, as in most homeopathic products, it contains nothing whatsoever.

malarix1

This document contains a direct claim that the treatment "has been successfully been used to prevent and treat malaria . . ."

malarix2 

There follows more utter fantasy

malarix3

Nonsense like this would be a joke if it were not for the fact that they must be killing people. 

Peter Fisher, clinical director the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, said, of the original malaria scandal,

“I’m very angry about it because people are going to get malaria – there is absolutely no reason to think that homeopathy works to prevent malaria and you won’t find that in any textbook or journal of homeopathy so people will get malaria, people may even die of malaria if they follow this advice”

Like most quasi-religious subjects, homeopathy is split into sects, at war with each other.

Follow-up

Homeopathy has become boring, so I’ll keep this short.

It’s clear that the public have rumbled the fraud and that homeopathy is heading back to where it was in the 1960s, a small lunatic fringe on the High Street.

All university ‘degrees’ in homeopathy have closed their doors in the last two years. 

Even Peter Fisher sounds increasingly desperate in his attempts to defend it.

If it were not for the unconstitutional interference in politics of the Prince of Wales, homeopathy would probably have sunk even further.  Princes who meddle like that should be allowed to cool off in the Tower of London. I can’t understand why his mother doesn’t restrain him before he destroys the monarchy altogether.

The homeopathy industry reminds me of the cigarette industry.  Now that they are discredited at home, they turn to exploitation of countries where they get less critical attention. 

The most advanced fantastists of the homeopathy business met in the Netherlands on 6th and 7th June to hear about “Homeopathy for Developing Countries”.   I was invited to attend by no less a person
than Kate Birch (q.v.). The programme included the following.

  • Treating AIDS in Tanzania
  • Treating malaria in Tanzania
  • Treating malaria in Ghana
  • Treating malaria in Kenya (the notorious Abha Light Foundation)
  • “Homeopaths from Earth without borders” in Africa and South America. Chagas disease.
  • Bhaktapur International Homeopathic Clinic, Nepal.

In my view people who exploit third world countries, to spread the myth that you can cure malaria and AIDS with sugar pills, deserve to be convicted of manslaughter, just as in the case in Australia of the homeopaths who allowed their daughter to die of Eczema (see Bogus therapy for real diseases: more homeopathic killing.

My experience of homeopaths is that most of them are desperately sincere about their delusion. It is a surreal experience to listen to them talking amongst themselves about everything from curing a pigeon’s broken wing to curing cholera with their magic pills. At least in Australia, it seems that sincere delusion is not a sufficient excuse for killing people.

It is little consolation that we are dealing here with the extreme wing of fantasists. Remember that when homeopaths in London were caught recommending sugar pills for malaria prevention, Peter Fisher said something not far short of what I say.

“I’m very angry about it because people are going to get malaria – there is absolutely no reason to think that homeopathy works to prevent malaria and you won’t find that in any textbook or journal of homeopathy so people will get malaria, people may even die of malaria if they follow this advice.”
   Peter Fisher. Clinical Director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital and Homeopathic Physician to the Queen

.A group of young scientists has written an admirable letter to WHO to ask them to prevent this sort of wickedness. Sadly, in the past, WHO has proved itself to be so stifled by political correctness in this sort of area, that is has given some very bad advice). Let’s hope they do better this time.

At least, one might think, a meeting like this is free from the pressures of big Pharma that have caused such corruption in the clinical world. Or are they? The sponsor list at the end looks like this.


More information at Homeopathic “cures” for malaria: a wicked scam and here, and on many other blogs.  Just Google “homeopathy malaria”.

Follow-up

Jump to follow-up

Latest from ABC News (Australia)

Parents guilty of eczema baby manslaughter

There have been emotional scenes at a Sydney court where a homeopath and his wife were found guilty of the manslaughter of their baby daughter.

Thomas Sam and his wife Manju Sam were convicted over the death of their nine-month-old Gloria.

Thomas Sams
Thomas and Manju Sam leave the NSW Supreme Court (AAP: Paul Miller, file photo)

The baby girl had severe eczema and died of septicemia in 2002.

After a four-week trial the Supreme Court jury took less than two days to reach its decision.

The Crown argued the couple did not seek conventional medical treatment for their child, instead treating her with homeopathic drops.

The defence argued the couple were not warned about how sick the child was by medical staff who examined her.

Thomas and Manju Sam sat in the dock with their arms around each other, crying as the verdict was read out.

Thomas Sam’s brother, who was in the public gallery, collapsed sobbing and was taken outside.

Both were granted bail with strict conditions ahead of their sentencing hearing.

How many times does one have to say it. Sugar pills can kill.

They kill when give given to prevent malaria

They kill when given to treat AIDS

Young scientists have condemned it. Their excellent efforts were reported in The Guardian and in the Times). Anyone with half a brain condemns it.

Most homeopaths I’ve met are genuine people who really believe their own fairy tales. Is being genuinely deluded absolve you from blame? Not in Australia, it seems.

Follow-up