Jeremy Laurance: The fight against diseases from malaria to typhoid is harmed by snake-oil pushers

Share
Related Topics

There have been many snake oil salesmen purveying cures for Aids but to find their activities backed by UK charities may be a first.

Did the charities know what was being done in their name? Or did they hand over the cash and leave others to decide how to spend it?

The harm done when alternative medicine is used as a defence against serious diseases such as Aids is well documented.

Remember the former South African Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who became known as Dr Beetroot?

She advocated "natural" treatments for HIV based on beetroot, wild garlic and the African potato.

Together with Thabo Mbeki, the former president, she was chiefly responsible for the African National Congress government delaying for years the distribution of anti-retroviral drugs to patients with HIV and Aids.

While Mr Mbeki publicly questioned the link between the virus and the disease, Dr Beetroot, who died in 2009, advised patients the cure lay in the cooking pot. Their policies, according to a Harvard University study, cost the lives of more than 300,000 people.

In the UK, alternative practitioners have put forward homoeopathic remedies as an effective preventive against malaria, typhoid, dengue fever and yellow fever. The Hospital for Tropical Diseases has seen the results – people who thought they were protected against malaria but later contracted the disease and ended up on its wards, seriously sick.

Homoeopathic remedies are no physical defence against the viruses, bacteria and parasites that cause life-threatening disease.

The promotion of alternative medicine in this context, as a substitute for proven orthodox treatments such as anti-retroviral drugs for HIV, is indefensible.

Donations to the charities involved should cease – until they can show us they approve of the uses to which our cash is being put.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Residents of the Gravesham constituency are 10 times closer to what Peter Hain scorns as the “Westminster elite” than are those of Linlithgow and East Falkirk  

Will no one stop the march of localism?

Jonathan Meades
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam