IzH: Hallo Dr. Manchanda. The 66th World Congress on Homoeopathy (LIGA) from the 1-4th December 2011 in New Delhi has been a great success with more than 2000 delegates from all over the world. The main theme of the congress was “Homoeopathy in Public Health Care”. Why did you choose this topic?
Dr. Manchanda: Homoeopathy is largely seen as a therapy for the individual, where the believers of Homeopathy seek treatment from homeopaths as a matter of choice. However, there is now sufficient evidence both from the past as well as the present for the world to start seeing homeopathy on a larger scale. Homeopathy is not merely treating isolated sets of individuals, but the public as a whole. Medical history clearly reveals that the cholera epidemics in the past were often treated with successful results using homeopathy. More recently, a Cuban study showed encouraging results in the prevention of leptospirosis with homeopathy. The conjoined effect of these studies reveals that homeopathy can prove to play a pivotal role in improving the public health scenario in the world, and that, therefore, became our target, and hence, the theme of the congress.
Since India was the host of the 66th Congress, it was extremely important to talk about the concept of the effective mainstreaming of homoeopathy in public health services, something India has largely been successful in implementing.
IzH: What role does homoeopathy play in the public health sector in India?
Dr. Manchanda: In India, homoeopathy is relatively popular. A cafeteria approach, where patients are offered different systems of medicine under one roof, is being followed as a matter of policy in providing primary health care to the masses. This has helped in establishing homoeopathic wings in many allopathic hospitals and dispensaries, both government and private. homoeopathic doctors provide treatment to millions of patients for different day to day illnesses in the public health care system. Even during sporadic and epidemic conditions, people tend to use homoeopathic drugs for prevention. Recently, the Indian Government successfully ran a national health campaign ‘Homeopathy for a Healthy Mother & a Happy Child’, which was based exclusively on homoeopathy. Also, private homeopathic practitioners are contributing a great deal in public health care through their private or charitable clinics.
IzH: Do you scientifically evaluate the effect of homeopathy in the public health care sector?
Dr. Manchanda: Yes, there are many research studies going on to evaluate the efficacy of homeopathy for many different conditions, such as the Delhi Government’s study on subclinical thyroid levels in schoolchildren, tubercular lymphadenitis, warts etc. Besides clinical research, there are fundamental, drug standardization, drug proving and clinical verification research going on, both at government and private levels. For example, the Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy is conducting a lot of such research, either independently or in collaboration with other research institutes or individual researchers, under an extra-mural research scheme at the Dept of AYUSH, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare of the Indian Government. Other than that, almost all homoeopathic organizations are doing their bit toward research for the further validation of homoeopathy in today’s times of evidence-based medicine.
IzH: What about the results?
Dr. Manchanda: The results have been encouraging, to say the least. In fact, over the years, India has learnt better ways of conducting research from their international counterparts and the recent research has been carried out as per standardized, internationally recognized methods and are therefore more acceptable. A few exemplary results from clinical studies include work on tubercular lymphadenitis, japanese encephalitis, etc. In addition, we have also conducted some administrative studies like the ‘assessment of the cost effectiveness of homeopathic clinic in the cafeteria approach’ and ‘public-private partnerships in the provision of homeopathic services in the city of Delhi, India’ where we have tried to analyse both the strengths and weaknesses of medical pluralism in India and have worked out some solutions for implementing medical pluralism more effectively in all parts of India.
IzH: India is home to 200,000 homoeopathic physicians and practitioners, 180 homeopathic colleges and hospitals. This is unique in the world. What is the reason for this popularity?
Dr. Manchanda: I would like to be more precise here with the actual figures. To date, India is home to around 285,000 homeopaths, 186 homeopathic colleges, over 6000 homeopathic dispensaries and about 250 hospitals! These figures are a clear reflection of the belief of the people of India in the homeopathic system of medicine, which, in turn, is a result of the effectiveness of homeopathy in treating a wide range of illnesses, which has convinced the Indian masses over a period of time. Homeopathy is culturally acceptable to the Indian population.
IzH: What are your thoughts about the future of homoeopathy in India?
Dr. Manchanda: India is the second home to homoeopathy, after Germany. As I often say, ‘Homeopathy was born in Germany, but is flourishing in India‘. Today, homeopathy is an inseparable part of the Indian health care system and with time, its contribution to the health care scenario in India will continue to increase. However, we as Indian homeopaths need to make maximum use of the available opportunities and develop new ways to promote homeopathy. Now that India has achieved this high number, it has to achieve the quality – Quality in various aspects, like homeopathic education, homeopathic research, drug manufacture and control etc. Only then can India aspire to become the justified world leader in homeopathy.
IzH: Dr. Manchanda, we thank you very much for answering our questions.
Dr. Manchanda: Thank you, it was my privilege!
Dr. R. K. Manchanda, MD (HOM), MBA (Health Care), Deputy Director (Homoeopathy), Directorate of ISM & Homoeopathy, Government of NCT of Delhi, is the Organizing Secretary of the LIGA Congress 2011 in New Delhi