Green MP: Homeopathy is an option

AIMEE GULLIVER
Last updated 09:40 31/10/2014

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Green Party MP Steffan Browning maintains homeopathy is an option the World Health Organisation (WHO) should consider in treating Ebola, despite widespread criticism of his "barking mad" idea.

Browning signed an online petition this week which called for the WHO to end the suffering of the Ebola crisis by testing and distributing homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks.

Homeopathy is a system of alternative medicine; one remedy involves using a very diluted form of the substance causing the symptoms of the disease to treat the patient - in this case, a diluted version of the Ebola virus.

Browning acknowledged yesterday it was "probably a bit unwise" to sign the petition, which he also shared on his Facebook page.

He had signed the petition "pretty late at night", and said he "probably dropped" from the standards expected of a member of Parliament in doing so.

Browning repeatedly said he signed the petition because he was not opposed to homeopathy, which he had used himself, and said it had seemingly been effective in treating one of his children in the past.

He refused to comment on whether he thought it could help treat Ebola, saying that was a matter for world health authorities.

But as the WHO did not "appear to have an instant cure" for the deadly disease, Browning hoped it would keep an open mind on every potential treatment option.

When asked if that included homeopathy, Browning said: "why not?", but acknowledged some people would see it as "wacky".

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said treating Ebola patients with homeopathic remedies was "very, very dangerous" and "a wacko idea".

"I think he really needs to engage his brain, it's a really and stupid dangerous idea."

Prime Minister John Key called the idea "barking mad" and said Browning was undermining what was a serious international health crisis.

"Let's be honest, this is a serious global issue, and if he really thinks that's the answer I'd love to see the medical research."

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman agreed it was unwise of Browning to have signed the petition, which he said did not reflect the position of the party.

"The Green Party approach is to take an evidence-based approach and leave it to the experts at the WHO about making sure we deal with issues like Ebola."

The organiser of the online petition Fran Sheffield said homeopathy had "a proven track record of treating and preventing serious epidemic diseases," including dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis.

"The appropriate homeopathic medicine (remedy) is likely to be just as effective against the Ebola virus," she said on the petition.

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Homeopathic remedies were "ideally suited to the difficulties and constraints of Ebola-affected countries."

The death toll from the current Ebola outbreak has risen to 4922 out of 10,141 recorded infections, with three West African countries accounting for most of the cases, according to the World Health Organisation.

No antiviral medications have proved effective in treating the Ebola virus, and experimental vaccines and treatments under development have not yet been fully tested.

The petition reached 5000 signatures yesterday. 

- The Marlborough Express

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