What alternative health

practitioners might not tell you



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“Switzerland has a universal compulsory private health insurance scheme, regulated by the Federal Health Insurance Act of 1994 (Krankenversicherungsgesetz — KVG). The KVG details the treatments for which the treatment provider will be reimbursed. In 1998, the Swiss Department for the Interior (EDI) and the Federal Service Commission (ELK) decided to allow insurance companies to be reimbursed for five alternative therapies: homeopathy, anthroposophic medicine, neural therapy, phytotherapy (herbal) and Traditional Chinese herbal therapy (TCM). This was a temporary measure that expired in June 2005. These therapies were provisionally included in the reimbursement scheme while evidence was sought for their efficacy, appropriateness and cost-benefit so that a decision could be made in 2005 whether to end the reimbursement or add it permanently to the insurance scheme. For this, an elaborate Complementary Medicine Evaluation Program (Programm Evaluation Komplementärmedizin — PEK) was set up…respective authors [who wrote reports for the program] were allowed to properly publish their work in scientific papers or books after conclusion of the PEK. On homeopathy, this includes the HTA [Health Technology Assessment], written by Bornhöft et al., and the meta-analysis, famously known as Shang et al…A summary of the homeopathy HTA was first published in 2006 as an article in “Forschung zur Komplementärmedizin”, a German CAM journal. In the same year, authors Bornhöft et al. published a German book version, which was then extended and published in English in 2011. It is this eventual book that the English-speaking homeopathy world is so unjustifiably ecstatic about...The report was certainly commissioned by a Swiss Government department, but it was written by alternative therapy apologists. We cannot be certain who were involved in the original HTA on homeopathy, but the summary report published in 2006 was written by:

  • Gudrun Bornhöft and Peter Matthiessen: Chair in Medical Theory and Complementary Medicine, University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany and PanMedion Foundation, Zurich
  • Ursula Wolf: Institute for Complementary Medicine (KIKOM), Inselspital, University of Berne and PanMedion Foundation, Zurich
  • Klaus von Ammon, Stephan Baumgartner and André Thurneysen: Institute for Complementary Medicine (KIKOM), Inselspital, University of Berne
  • Marco Righetti: Medical Practice, Zurich
  • Stefanie Maxion-Bergemann: PanMedion Foundation, Zurich

No wonder homeopaths think the HTA was a good report — it was written by supporters of alternative therapies…Homeopaths can praise the HTA under the PEK if they want. But in the eyes of the PEK review panel and the Swiss Government it was biased and overly optimistic, and taking everything else into account, they decided that homeopathy was quite likely ineffective but harmless.”  By Sven Rudloff and Zeno, Zeno’s blog (9th May 2012)