Patients swear by homeopathy despite criticism

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Patients swear by homeopathy despite criticism

In reports published last week, France's national health authority argued that the alternative medicine had no proven medical benefit.

By Sandhya D'Mello

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Published: Sat 13 Jul 2019, 10:04 PM

Last updated: Sun 14 Jul 2019, 1:02 AM

Homeopathy, an alternative medical practice, has been gaining traction in the UAE - so much so that major insurance firms have included it in their coverage and more pharmacies are stocking up on homeopathic medicines.
However, France's recent decision to stop reimbursing patients for homeopathic treatment from 2021 has become the talk of the town in local communities, with many wondering whether the move would affect the popularity of the practice in the UAE.
In reports published last week, France's national health authority argued that the alternative medicine had no proven medical benefit. French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said the refunds paid by their social security - currently 30 per cent of the treatment - will be reduced to 15 per cent in 2020 and then to zero in 2021.
Experts in the UAE, however, believe that France's position is unlikely to have an impact in the country anytime soon.
"The popularity of homeopathy is increasing each year in the UAE. For many residents here, it is the first choice of treatment for common ailments," said Dr Najeeb Ahammed PK, homeopathic consultant at Jansons Medical Centre.
Fathimath Manal, a Dubai resident, relies on a homeopathy doctor when it comes to her kids.
"It's milder, and from my experience, it treats the root cause of the problem," she said.
"There was a time when my son used to constantly fall ill. Once, he was hospitalised for five days back home in Kerala due to a flu. He got better and we came back to the UAE. Within three days, he fell ill again.
"Imagine, five days of antibiotics drip and he falls ill within a week. That's when my husband and I decided to go to a homeo doctor," Manal said.
Since then, the family has sworn by the alternative treatment.
"It has been four years now and we have not looked back. During this period, we have consulted that doctor just about five times," Manal said,
Sonia Salim, a Ras Al Khaimah resident, shared a similar experience. "My son kept on having recurring acute bronchitis. It became so severe that he had to be injected with antibiotics without much difference.
"The number of hospital visits and medicines given to him without any permanent results made me switch to homeopathy," she said.
After the switch, Sonia has noticed that her son's acute bronchitis became less frequent.
So far, homeopathy has not been banned anywhere in the world. In fact, it is well accepted in the Middle East, India and Western Europe, experts said.
Dr Sumayya Shabeel, homeopathic consultant at Dr Batras Homoeopathic Clinic in Dubai Healthcare City, said: "Homeopathic remedies are cheap to make; safe to take; do not destroy the environment nor require chemicals to make the remedies. It tries to stimulate bodies' own self-healing mechanism and, thus, improves the immunity of the person."
The UAE has been supportive of the practice. In the region, it was among the first to legalise homeopathy, introducing a licensing system for practitioners in 2003.
There are currently around 250 licensed homeopaths in the country, out of which more than 120 are in medical centres across the emirates.
"The homeopathy community in the UAE is so large, and the system is a common practice in all emirates. The availability of alternative medicines across many pharmacies is proof that it is widely accepted," said Dr Shifa Muhammed of Good Health Medical Clinic in Al Nahda, Sharjah.
Popular medical insurance companies, such as Bupa, Oman Insurance, Nextcare, Axa, Adnic, Neuron and NAS, also cover homeopathic treatments.
Dr Ahammed PK said: "Over 24 companies reimburse the cost of homeopathic treatments in UAE. Some of the major insurance companies cover them."

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