Outrage is mounting over a publicly funded Ontario college’s plan to launch a diploma program in homeopathy, a practice based on the philosophy that illness can be treated with massively diluted substances — so super-diluted scientists say the “remedies” are virtually water.
Critics say Georgian College in Barrie has created a three-year course that has no grounding in science, is based on “magical thinking” and could ultimately harm the public by giving the field an air of official credibility. Numerous studies, they argue, have found no reliable evidence from research in humans that homeopathic remedies are any more effective than placebos, or sugar pills.
“Homeopathy is a pseudo-science and this alone should be sufficient to reject the inclusion of such a program at a publicly funded institution,” Barrie physician Chris Giorshev wrote in a letter to Ontario’s minister of advanced education and skills development, Deb Matthews, as well as the community college’s board and president.
“There are at least 12 international organizations that have evaluated the literature and again and again they find homeopathy does nothing,” Giorshev, who also chairs the Ontario Medical Association’s section on chronic pain, said in an interview.
He said it’s unethical for an academic institution to teach students a program based on scientifically implausible principles and worries the public could ultimately be harmed by leading people to assume homeopathy is a valid form of medicine. “This will likely result in patients delaying or even failing to seek effective health care for their ailments,” Giorshev wrote.
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The Georgian College’s curriculum includes a discussion on the “role” of nosodes —homeopathic solutions some natural-health practitioners and anti-vaccine advocates claim can be used as alternatives to vaccines against measles, mumps, polio and other childhood diseases.
Three years ago, Ontario became the first province in the country to regulate the practice of homeopathy to widespread criticism the government was legitimizing “quackery.”
In a statement to the Post, Georgian College officials said its new diploma program, due to launch at its Barrie campus in the fall, “will provide students with the theoretical, practical and clinical skills necessary to graduate with the competencies required to successfully meet the entry to practice requirements of the regulator body,” the College of Homeopaths of Ontario.
“Georgian is seeing strong interest in the program,” added Fay Lim-Lambie, dean of health, wellness and science.
“As an educational institution we welcome critical discussion and debate,” she said. “It helps ensure the best possible curriculum and learning outcomes for our students.”
She added that, “In an era of patient choice, it is important for the college to provide students with the most diverse education possible, including options for care and different methods.”
A spokesperson for Matthews said Wednesday the minister “will not be commenting on this individual program.”
Georgian College received funding approval for its …read more