Or, if you want a rhyme, “WHO goes woo.” This article comes from Jonathan Jarry, a science communicator at McGill University’s Office for Science and Society. I was surprised to learn that the WHO, a highly respected organization run by the United Nations, has, on the sly, bought into a lot of woo, including homeopathy, acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, ayurvedic medicine, and naturopathy, as well as other dubious remedies. Apparently the motivation for this is that WHO, whose goal is to ensure that everyone in the world has medical care, realized that this is not possible if by “medical care” you mean “modern science-based medicine.” Many people just can’t get it, or perhaps don’t trust it. Thus WHO buys into woo so that people without access to that care can use the local nostrums. Presto: they get medical help!
Click to read:
You can see the document from 2013, “Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023“, laying out how “traditional and complementary medicine” (“T&CM”) are to be used. Here’s the rationale from the pamphlet. Look at the quackery that WHO wants to promulgate! (Bolding is mine.)
It is increasingly recognised that safe and effective T&CM could contribute to the health of our populations. One of the most significant questions raised about T&CM in recent years is how it might contribute to universal health coverage by improving service delivery in the health system, particularly PHC: patient accessibility to health services, and greater awareness of health promotion and disease prevention are key issues here. Insurance coverage of T&CM products, practices and practitioners varies widely from full inclusion within insurance plans to total exclusion, with consumers having to pay for all T&CM out of pocket. Simultaneously, there is emerging evidence that T&CM, when included in UHC plans, may reduce pressure on the system and diminish costs. This shows why it is important for Member States to consider how to integrate T&CM into their health systems and UHC plans more comprehensively/
Many countries have their own traditional or indigenous forms of healing which are firmly rooted in their culture and history. Some forms of TM such as Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine and Unani medicine are popular nationally, as well as being used worldwide. At the same time, some forms of CM such as anthroposophic medicine, chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy and osteopathy are also in extensive use. Health systems around the world are experiencing increased levels of chronic illness and escalating health care costs. Patients and health care providers alike are demanding that health care services be revitalized, with a stronger emphasis on individualized, person-centred care (9). This includes expanding access to T&CM products, practices and practitioners. Over 100 million Europeans are currently T&CM users, with one fifth regularly using T&CM and the same number preferring health care which includes T&CM (10). There are many more T&CM users in Africa, Asia, Australia and North America (11).
From Jarry’s article:
What the WHO sees in T&CM—interventions that include Ayurveda, traditional Chinese medicine, and naturopathy—is an easy way to fulfill a goal. Training enough medical doctors and building enough hospitals to cover the globe seems like an impossible task. Instead, let’s acknowledge the presence of healers of various stripes, with little attention given to the kind of care they provide.
The WHO wants the integration of these prescientific healing practices into national health systems as a way to contribute to universal health coverage, and the arguments it musters for this integration are sloppy and predictable. T&CM is affordable, we are told. This is debatable, as practices like chiropractic and acupuncture commonly depend on regular “maintenance” treatments for life, and affordability is of course no gauge of effectiveness. T&CM is popular, the WHO argues, which is a faulty argument. Bloodletting was widespread for centuries, not because it worked well but because there was little else to do. The WHO also carves out a niche for T&CM in addressing chronic health issues and providing individualized, holistic care, which is a copy-and-paste job from reams of marketing material aimed at glorifying so-called alternative medicine.
The WHO’s poorly argued strategy to convince Member States to integrate prescientific practices into their healthcare system has led them down a worrisome road paved with good intentions. After all, how do you distinguish a traditional healer using “best practices” (whatever that means) from a charlatan? The WHO’s answer has been to release benchmarks for training in the various T&CM interventions it supports.
More from Jarry:
The WHO’s Traditional Medicine Strategy is peppered with allusions to testing these interventions for their effectiveness. Indeed, the number one difficulty their Member States note regarding the regulation of T&CM is the lack of research data. These healing practices must be supported by evidence, the WHO agrees, but what kind of evidence? “While there is much to be learned from controlled clinical trials,” they note, “other evaluation methods are also valuable,” including “patterns of use.” This is a worrying way to promote popularity as an indication of validity.
“Patterns of use”? That means that the effectiveness of treatments can be judged by how widely they’re used?? Like bloodletting used to be, and ayurvedic medicine and chiropractic is now? I don’t even have to tell you how bogus that means of assessment is (see p. 27 of the pamphlet for verification). But according to Jarry, “Orac” (David Gorski), who runs the site Science-Based Medicine, has already been bashing WHO for this.
Dr. David Gorski, an oncologist and science blogger, has covered the WHO’s embrace of quackery many times in the past, pointing out how interesting it is that the people arguing for medical integration make no mention of European humoral therapy and our need to integrate it into common practice. While anthroposophy’s four classical elements and acupuncture’s rivers of qi are seen as conducive to good healthcare, the debunked idea that phlegm, blood, yellow bile and black bile determine our health has been ignored by the WHO. They are all antiquated notions, but the ones we buried are not being resurrected by the WHO. Strange.
Read the document for yourself to see the abnegation of WHO’s mission. You don’t get people well by using these species of quackery.