Should the Health Ministry be supporting alternative medicine?

MAY 17 — The Health ministry promoting homeopathy on social media was not on my 2023 bingo card.

In a now-deleted tweet, the Health ministry extolled homeopathy’s many supposed virtues including no side effects or risk of addiction.

The Health Ministry's glowing endorsement of homeopathy did not sit well with many Malaysians who voiced their displeasure online. — Screenshot via Twitter/KKMPutrajayaThe Health Ministry's glowing endorsement of homeopathy did not sit well with many Malaysians who voiced their displeasure online. — Screenshot via Twitter/KKMPutrajaya

The Health Ministry’s glowing endorsement of homeopathy did not sit well with many Malaysians who voiced their displeasure online. — Screenshot via Twitter/KKMPutrajaya

The Health Ministry’s glowing endorsement of homeopathy did not sit well with many Malaysians who voiced their displeasure online. — Screenshot via Twitter/KKMPutrajaya

Now you could argue that with the ministry having its own traditional and complementary medicine division, what would the harm be in just treating homeopathy as another alternative medicine?

Last I checked our Health ministry is not also the Ministry of Alternative Medicine.

Treatments such as traditional massage and acupuncture might offer some pain or stress relief but apart from that, I don’t see why we need to fund or promote other alternative treatments.

While Britain’s King Charles has long been a proponent of homeopathy, the National Health Service (NHS) was less of a fan.

Then-NHS chief Simon Stevens said in 2018 about the practice, “There is no robust evidence to support homeopathy which is at best a placebo and a misuse of scarce NHS funds.”

He said it in response to the High Court decision to reject a legal challenge by the British Homeopathic Association, which aimed to stop the NHS’ plan to stop routinely funding homeopathy.

The House of Commons’ science and technology committee as well as the British Medical Association have called for an end to the funding as well as they considered the treatment being little more than a placebo.

Without science or modern medicine, surgeons would still be operating without washing their hands.

Germs and viruses are real things so why do we allow them to be treated via theories and practices that cannot be proven to do anything besides pad homeopathic doctors’ bank accounts?

Meanwhile there seems to be little to no hope for bivalent vaccine boosters arriving anytime soon.

What could be the reason? The way our prime minister has hardly commented on the situation with our doctors and the health minister having very little to say, I get the impression that as far as they are concerned, Covid vaccines and boosters are no longer an urgent priority.

With the many wasted doses thanks to Malaysians either believing Chinese or Russian propaganda and celebrities declaring they would not get their kids Covid jabs, the government may have decided to just give up.

We may have quit caring about the virus but the virus has not quit being of significant harm to us.

I live with the aftermath of getting Covid — heart palpitations and my psoriasis worsening to the point random patches keep sprouting all over my body.

Living with Covid does not mean pretending it’s not lurking somewhere. Where are ventilation measures and regulations? Vaccine schedules? Mitigation measures and accommodations to prevent people from being disabled, or to help those already disabled?

What are we doing to help people with Long Covid? How are we ensuring places such as care homes or orphanages take extra care to protect the vulnerable?

I can think of a myriad of other things the Health Ministry can do right now and they do not involve hawking sugar pills on social media.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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