Enid Segall (right), President of EFHPA with Ingrid Meier-Regel, former president of Hahnemannia.
The European Federation of Homeopathic Patients’ Associations (EFHPA) was set up in 2003 by members of the Patients and Users sub-committee of the European Committee for Homeopathy (ECH). This came about as we felt we could do more within Europe to represent patients as a standalone, independent organisation. But we remain affiliated to the ECH, the body which represents medical doctors with a qualification in homeopathy.
EFHPA is the voice of homeopathic patients in Europe and represents the rights of patients who wish to use homeopathic treatment. Our aim is to defend the right to patient centred healthcare that respects their needs, preferences and values and to have a patient group in every European country. We work continually to achieve this aim while strengthening and informing the existing ones. Together we are stronger.
EFHPA is a member of the European Patients’ Forum (EPF), European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and is a Corresponding Member of the European Coalition of Homeopathic &Anthroposophic Medicinal Products (ECHAMP). It is also a member of EUROCAM which promotes complementary and alternative medicine across Europe.
Two of EFHPA’s core aims are patient empowerment and patient choice. Being treated with respect, dignity and compassion and being seen as a human being with a life beyond one’s health condition is a starting point of patient empowerment. Patients using homeopathic medicines are generally better informed about their health and how to manage their illness. They are open to suggestions about change of diet and lifestyle. They are generally healthier, and cost their National health system less.
Governments say that patients’ rights matter and that their views count. But too often this gets forgotten, particularly if the patients request access to homeopathy. Sick people are not always capable of fighting for their rights and this is where the member groups of EFHPA have an important role to play. Many patients come to homeopathy because they cannot tolerate the drugs they have been prescribed or because of their side effects. Over prescribing is well documented and hospitalisation due to side effects is a big problem in modern healthcare.
Homeopathic medicines are not expensive and are safe as well as being virtually without side effects. Any reaction to a homeopathic medicine is short lived and not life threatening. Patients who know how to treat themselves with homeopathy for simple, self limiting illnesses weigh less on their county’s healthcare budget.
Governments and the World Health Organisation are very concerned about Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) due to the overuse of antibiotics. Homeopathy has much to offer here, particularly in the field of veterinary medicine, animal welfare and the food chain.
Patient safety is of paramount importance. There has to be adequate regulation of practitioners of homeopathy. In some European countries only doctors may practise homeopathy but in others, anyone can set up as a practitioner and this can put patients at risk. EFHPA would like to see better and recognised training for practitioners and either voluntary or statutory regulation throughout Europe. Training in homeopathy for doctors is post-graduate and is recognised in most European countries.
EFHPA is also concerned about inequalities in patient access to homeopathic medicines which varies widely between countries. The interpretation of EU Directives on medicines is left to each Member State within the EU which leads to differences and eventual difficulties in supply and availability.
Patient groups supporting homeopathy are not a new phenomena. One of our German members, Hahnemannia, has just celebrated its 150th anniversary. Hot on its heels comes the Dutch group KVHN (KoninklijkeVerenigingHomeopathie Nederland) established in 1886 and the BHA (British Homeopathic Association) formed in 1902. When EFHPA was established, Spain had no patient groups, but now there are four, two of which were admitted at our General Assembly in October 2018. Our growth is sure and steady, but as with any group of volunteers, it takes commitment and time and not everyone has that to offer and it takes leadership ability too. We have put together some Guidelines on setting up a group which we are happy to send in response to any enquiries.
Homeopathy and the NHS
As the National Health Service celebrates its 70th anniversary, it was a shock to find that it had decided to cease supporting patient access to the medicines. It was felt that the required consultation process for this has not been corrected carried out and as a result the British Homeopathic Association went to Court to challenge the situation but the judge found in favour of NHS England.The result of this is that patients now have to pay for their homeopathic prescriptions even if they are exempt from paying because of age or infirmity. After the initial shock, patients seem to have accepted this unhappy and discriminatory situation. It is hoped that it will be reversed in due course.
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