In the last few months, we encountered some homeopaths with extremely weird ideas for treating ebola. ‘Normal’ not working homeopathy and even diluted violin music or white noise. Now there seem to be at least four who are trying to put their illusionary treatments to work in Western Africa. On the website ‘Spirit, Science & Healing’ homeopath and Huffington Post columnist Larry Malerba wrote a message on 21 October: ‘Update: Team in Liberia Using Homeopathy for Ebola.’ Of course, this astonishing news was picked up on Twitter and Facebook, resulting in many reactions of disbelief. The message was removed soon after. But to make things disappear from the Web is quite hard. Further digging into this story learns that we probably should take this endeavour very seriously indeed.
The blog is still in the Google cache and now also on archive.today. Four homeopathic doctors, dr. Richard Hiltner (US), dr. Edouard Broussalian (Switzerland), dr. Medha Durge (India) and dr. Ortrud Lindemann (Germany), are part of this team. It might look like a big bluff when you read it at first. Who can imagine that these people might actually get access to ebola patients and will be allowed to ‘treat’ them with sugar pills and drops?
Broussalian was a familiar name to me, he had been conducting some ‘research’ during a cholera epidemic on Haiti. This story is documented in ‘Spectrum of Homeopathy‘ (Nr 2. 2011) a magazine by publisher Narayana Verlag from Germany. His methods are extremely dubious. Broussalian and his team were apparently allowed to help treat the cholera patients. Those patients were treated with regular methods, mainly a drip. But Broussalian also gave them the homeopatic remedy Phosphorus 200C from a spray flacon. In their strange working minds, the homeopaths addressed all success of the recovery of the patients to this remedy instead of to the regular treatment. At the end of the article is this ominous sentence:
At the end of our stay, we were no longer providing new patients with an infusion, but immediately gave them the phosphorus spray.
There is nothing in the article on the recovery of these patients, most likely Broussalian had already left. Let’s hope that they got a drip anyway after he left, and in time. On YouTube, Broussalian presents his ‘research’ in a video. I will not embed that video in this post, because I suspect the patients never gave permission to use the footage for this purpose. We can see from the video that Broussalian never informs the patients about what a homeopathic treatment is. He just sprays them in a casual matter.
This sort of unethical behaviour doesn’t predict anything good for his stay in Liberia. On his website, there is a post from October 12th: ‘Mission Ebola‘. You can’t read it straight away, it’s password protected. After a few guesses, I found that it is simply ‘ebola’. So read this now before they remove it or change the password [1/11/2014: post is removed, see update below]. He writes that they will first take the two-day course learning how to deal with those protective suits. Also that he thinks that it is not certain that they will be able to access ebola patients in an early phase of their illness, that might take a bit longer as was his experience on Haiti. Their goal is to find out which homeopathic remedy works best and they strive for a zero percent mortality. And probably they will get opportunities to treat the numerous other illnesses that are now a little less ‘in fashion’. He ends his post with the following words:
Enfin, c’est une occasion unique de démontrer la valeur de l’homéopathie. On nous dénigrera bien sûr, on contestera que les malades guéris fussent malades, mais nous espérons en soigner un si grand nombre qu’il n’y aura pas de contestation possible. Les marchands de vaccins expérimentaux pourront alors aller se rhabiller.
[rough translation: ‘Enfin, this is a unique opportunity to demonstrate the value of homeopathy. Of course, they will discredit us, they will contest that the cured patients had been sick in the first place, but we hope to treat such a big number that there can be no doubt. The companies working on the experimental vaccines can start packing their bags.’]
Dangerous boasting. In their magazines and on YouTube they will probably succeed in framing their experiences as a big success for homeopathy. If things go on as planned, that is. Ganta Hospital, the Methodist hospital where the four allegedly will start working in the new ebola clinic, has been informed about their true intentions.
Update: just found this post on Facebook. It seems that for the moment things go as planned for the homeopaths, they were received by a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Asriel C. Davis) and a certain Victor Doolakeh Taryor, hospital administrator of Ganta Hospital. [28/10/2014 this post is now changed, the letters from the homeopaths have been deleted]
Update 27-10-2014: for those who have doubts that the Liga Medicorum Homoeopathica Internationalis has something to do with this mission, read this letter (pdf) by their president Renzo Galassi from last August. Many national organisations of homeopaths are a member of this Liga, so they share responsibility.
[added 27-6-2019] A follow-up letter sent the following day was found, which shows that the German homeopaths were already organizing the mission.
Update 28-10-2014: The team of homeopaths is most likely part of a bigger group of twenty doctors who are sent to Ganta Hospital by a German foundation. See this post on their website: Freunde Liberias e.V. ebnet Weg für internationales Ärzteteam. I’ve sent them an e-mail for confirmation, but no reply yet. They might not know what the secret agenda of the homeopaths is.
Update 1-11-2014: the blog post ‘Mission Ebola’ by Broussalian has been removed, as I expected. Here is a screenshot of the contents after entering the password, a plaintext version is also available.
This story is followed up in a new post: