A year after Australia’s top medical research organisation, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), >debunked homeopathy is no more effective than a placebo , the Ministry of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha & Homeopathy) has criticised the most extensive, global study on the subject for using an “unscientific approach” and stated that the findings are contrary to conclusions reached in India.
Answering a question on whether the AYUSH Ministry taken note of the Australian study, AYUSH Minister Shripad Yesso Naik said in the Lok Sabha that, “NHMRC had not taken up any study on effectiveness of homeopathy.” He added that the NHMRC had studied a “small number of already published papers and reached conclusions. The observations of the NHMRC have drawn criticism for its unscientific approach and methodological shortcomings”.
The NHMRC study was the first of its kind to thoroughly review 225 research papers on homeopathy before coming up with a position statement in March 2015. Further, the researchers had reviewed evidence of 176 trials, focussed on 68 different health conditions, and conducted a total of 57 systematic reviews to establish if the treatment is valid. The NHMRC had concluded that there was no evidence that homeopathy was more effective than placebo on any of the conditions.
“Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective,” the report concluded. Chair of the NHMRC Homeopathy Working Committee, Professor Paul Glasziou had said that, “people who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.”
While the AYUSH Minister did not clarify how the NHMRC study had methodological shortcomings, his defence of the branch of medicine was that the “findings are contrary to findings and conclusions of homeopathy in India”.
The AYUSH Ministry will shortly be piloting a programme called ‘homeopathy for a healthy child’ in five districts in Delhi, Kamrup (Assam), Palghar (Maharashtra), Noida (Uttar Pradesh) and Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh). The programme will mainly focus on dental problems in children between the ages of one and 18.