Only physicians permitted to be homeopaths

After a long parliamentary debate on the recognition of non-traditional medicine, the health minister has decided…The council of ministers approved her text defining strict rules for supervising the practice of homeopathy.

Only physicians, dentists and midwives, and only for activities related to their practice, will be authorized to practice homeopathy after having registered with the minister of health. Their training will be recognized based on a definition provided by the “homeopathy” Chamber of the parity committee which was created to examine the implementation of non-traditional practices. The minister calls such supervision indispensable, “although some professionals are serious, others are on the fringe, and they might go so far as to adopt a sectarian trend and put patients’ lives in danger.” At least four percent of Belgians use homeopathy at least once a year.

Concretely, no one may use the title “homeopath” in isolation. It will be a complementary title, for example: dentist-homeopath or family physician-homeopath. The homeopath must possess a university level or higher diploma. For a physician there will be a minimum of 600 hours of theoretical training and 200 hours of internship. The problem is that there is no official instruction in homeopathy available in Belgium aside from training provided generally by foreign institutes. Most Belgian homeopaths were trained in other countries.

The Chamber of Homeopathy must provide the minister with a list of “recognized” organizations. French-speaking medical schools have reiterated their refusal to teach a practice “not founded on scientific proof.” As for the 25% of non-physician practitioners currently identified by a professional union affiliation, they will be “forced to shut down.” Tomorrow, in fact, practicing homeopathy without recognition will be clearly punishable by as much as 6 months in prison.

FREDERIC SOUMOIS

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