Friday, 2 January 2009
The first meeting was with professor Zakaria H Mbwambo at the Institute of Traditional Medicine, Muhimbili University College of Health
Sciences. I had spoken to Doctor Mbwambo one year previously regarding the possibility of research into the homoeopathic treatment of AIDS, and he was very opening and encouraging. We now had a follow up meeting in the presence of professor Flora. Professor Flora is a learned and charming lady, and is a professor of anatomy and physiology at a nearby university, as well as a practicing homoeopath. She is going to lend her clinic to the trial, which is great news. We schedule further meetings, but it is clear I will have to raise some more funds to make this happen. The university can only give seed money. The most important thing for me is to get initial lab reports and statistics treating a small number of AIDS patients. I can then use this to push for funds and larger trials.
When I was in South Africa 5 years ago, we had designed a very complex trial together with the Nelson Mandela hospital in Durban. This trial had three arms; patients with homoeopathy and without ARV treatment, patients with homoeopathy and ARV treatment, and patients with ARVs alone (Placebo treatment is considered unethical in AIDS). It was a very comprehensive and well designed trial and it covered all the bases. And once the dean of the hospital resigned to go into the private sector, it was also a very dead trial. So I am happy to go for a simple trial initially, with one arm of AIDS patients with homoeopathy and no ARV. There are plenty of statistics on ARV treatment and patients with no treatment at all that we can compare to. If we can prove that homoeopathy has any positive effect at all, we can move on to bigger and better things.
The second meeting was at the Kibosho hospital near Moshi. Father Patrick organized a talk on homoeopathy to the staff. Sigsbert and I arrived thinking we would be talking to one or two doctors, but it turned out that the whole staff of about 40 doctors and nurses were eagerly waiting to hear about homoeopathy. All were dressed in white uniforms, and as always in Tanzania were very polite and courteous. When they enter the room they bow or curtsy and introduce themselves. Sigs explained about the Tanzanian law that support homoeopathy and other traditional medicines; Traditional and Alternative Medicine Act No. 23 of 2002. You can read it on
Sigs has been the main force behind this law, and he made sure that it was done properly and safeguards homoeopathy and just about every other major alternative medicine. It is a major achievement. This law is very important, because without legal backing from the government nobody wants to know. But once it is clear that we have government backing the staff is very interested. And once Sigs tells them about his clinic treating up to 100,000 patients a year, mostly for malaria, they are also very impressed.
I give a short talk on the principles of homeopathy. To my surprise everyone understands English, so I don't need translation. I hammer it home, short and sweet. After 29 years, I know how to do this quite well, and it hits the mark. The staff ask various questions, always politely and respectfully, and occasionally with the usual skeptical undertones. We set them straight.
After the talk many come over for a chat. It turns out that some of the nurses have actually been to Sigs’ clinic, which is a long way away, to treat their malaria. They all did well so they are believers. In fact, wherever we go we seem to be meeting patients who have been treated at the clinic.
Our aim is to set up a malaria trial here at the hospital, as well as an AIDS clinic. It seems we are on the way.
Posted by Camilla Sherr at 6:22 PM