We’ve published in our blog recently an article on the US’ possible recognition of acupuncture. Switzerland is swimming against the current with its decision to grant complementary therapies the same status as conventional medicine. In this case, the will of the citizens prevails over science.
“Absurd. Unacceptable. Surprising. A waste of taxpayers’ money. “These are some of the comments posted on swissinfo’s Facebook page following an article published in March mentioning the Swiss government’s decision to renew the authorization to reimburse taxpayers. alternative treatments.
Homeopathy in Switzerland
In 1999, the Ministry of Health announced that several alternative medicines (including homeopathy) would be included in basic health insurance for a six-year trial period.
Six years later, these therapies were dropped from the list because of their inability to meet the legal requirement of efficacy.
However, in response to the popular initiative on complementary and alternative medicine in 2009, the government proposed a counter-proposal accepted by the majority of voters.
Indeed, in 2012, alternative treatments are again covered by basic health insurance for a trial period.
On March 29, 2016, the Ministry of Health decided to grant four complementary therapies, including homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine, the same status as conventional medicine. These measures are to take effect by May 2017.
This decision was supported by the main Swiss medical organisations. At the end of the consultation phase, the Swiss Society of General Internal Medicine (SGAIM) and the Federation of Swiss Doctors (WFH), as well as the main parties, supported the decision of the ministry in charge of health.
The Cheaper the Better.
Homeopathy is the most widely used form of alternative therapies in Switzerland.
According to a report published jointly by the Federal Office of Health and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), annual fees for treatments and homeopathic medicines amount to 50 million Swiss francs and 31 million Swiss francs respectively. Increasing amounts each year.
Luojin Lyu, a renowned physician and author in China, has studied the quality-price ratio of homeopathy: “The medical cost of homeopathy is extremely low. If a child has a fever and needs emergency medical assistance in the United States, it will cost at least $ 600, while with $ 20, you can buy a pack of homeopathic pills at the supermarket. ”
Switzerland is not the only country where homeopathy is cheaper than allopathic treatment. Poulomi shares her experience of India’s use of homeopathic doctors: “Most Homeopath consultancy and treatment is way lot cheaper than Allopathy, at least in India. My mother was treated for kidney stones. After the surgery, a homeopath took care of her recovery. It took approximately 1 year, or maybe a little more than that, but she never complained of kidney stones ever after. I am saying this because this happened in 2010–11. Most other people I know who rely only on Allopathy drugs, keep returning to the doctor every 6–8 months for the same disease.”
More than 20 countries recognise alternative clinical methods. The costs of these treatments are reimbursed in several countries including the United Kingdom, France and Luxembourg. But in countries like Belgium and Austria, homeopathic treatments are excluded from Medicare because of their proven lack of effectiveness.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows the sale of homeopathic medicines, even if they do not offer conclusive evidence in terms of safety and efficacy.
From the point of view of Western medicine, large-scale clinical trials are the most recognised form of scientific evidence. Homeopathy studies conducted in Australia by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) in 2013 and 2015 are authoritative.
According to Luojin Lyu, these studies included a considerable amount of samples and covered a wide range of regions. Various health conditions, patients and countries were taken into account. The NHMRC concluded, “The people who choose homeopathy can put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is evidence of safety and efficacy. ”
HealthSuisse, the umbrella organisation for health insurance, argues that the methods used to test conventional treatments can not be applied to homeopathy. “It would be unfair to use conventional methodologies to evaluate the effectiveness of homeopathy. The potential risk is that these recognised methods of biomedical science run counter to the principles underlying homeopathy, “says Christophe Kämpf, HealthSuisse spokesperson.
The Federal Office of Public Health said: “The reimbursement of benefits was entered provisionally because it lacked evidence that complementary medicines are effective and economical . But it turns out that it is impossible to provide this evidence for these disciplines in their entirety. The four therapies involved are anthroposophic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy and herbal medicine.”
Daniel Dauwalder, spokesman for the Federal Office of Health, explains that the government’s decision of last March “reflects the will of the people” expressed in 2009. “The health insurance system will cover the cost of alternative therapies according to the principle of trust,” says Daniel Dauwalder. But he adds that if the relevance of these therapies are questioned, then HealthSuisse has the right to refuse reimbursement.
In fact, alternative treatments are not unconditionally covered by the basic medical insurance that all residents of Switzerland must pay. Only treatment fees administered by certified doctors are taken into consideration. Otherwise, the expenses can only be reimbursed if the person has taken out supplementary health insurance.
As a doctor, Luojin Lyu thinks that the latent danger is not in itself homeopathy. Rather, it is important to ensure that doctors are qualified and patients take the right medicines. “Switzerland can be inspired by Japan. Kampo medicine, a traditional method in Japan, is strictly controlled by the Japanese government. All Kampo drugs that are included in Medicare are required to go through long-term clinical trials on a large number of patients. Although there are thousands of different Kampo medicines, there are no more than a hundred drugs included in Medicare. ”
Homeopathy is not banned anywhere. In fact, it is well accepted in India and Western Europe where doctors give patients a choice between a homeopathic remedy or a regular drug. In Canada it is currently regulated and will become widely accepted as chiropractic and naturopathy are.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), intensive use of homeopathic treatments is common today in more than 80 countries.
But in countries where the drug industry has a strong hold over legislation, homeopathy is always held back. Why?
Homeopathic remedies are cheap to make, safe to take, do not destroy the environment, nor require chemicals to make the remedies. In the hands of an expert homeopath the remedies can achieve quick cures where medicine has never been effective with its drugs and bandaid approach.
If you’d like to study Homeopathy with the AMCC, here’s the link to our courses and program in Homeopathy.