HOMŒOPATHY IN COMMUNITY HEALTH
(For the Souvenir for the Scientific Seminar held in Madras in August 1984 by the Tamil Nadu Homœopathic Council.)
Medicine has so far been concentrating only on curative aspects in general. This has resulted in specialization and high technology, leaving out the really ‘sick’ population especially in the rural areas who need medical care on priority. It has been realized that unless a shift of emphasis of medicine was made from curative to preventive aspect, the state of health of the ‘common man’ will not be as it should be. Medicine in the past concentrated on eradication of diseases, then the stress shifted to prevention of diseases and now to promotion and maintenance of health. Therefore the WHO declared as its goal the achievement of ‘Health for all by 2000 AD’ in their Conference in Alma-Ata in September 1978. With this there has been a shift towards promotion of community health by stressing on mass immunization of infectious diseases improved sanitation, simple hygiene and advices like breast feeding, oral re-hydration, etc. The Government have also adopted the goal of ‘Health for all by 2000 AD’ and formulated Community Health Workers scheme.
Surely, prevention of infectious diseases and epidemics which render the individual weak, worn out and make him a host to various subsequent diseases thus causing a vicious cycle-viz. infection rendering him weak and further infection easily taking hold of such weak person, ultimately causing a sick community being developed, is much better than high technology-oriented, specialized curative medicine. This does not mean that specialization and curative medicine are not warranted at all. They have their due places.
With the rapid increase in population the world is getting more crowded. The over-crowding leads to easy transmission of infection and spread of epidemics in spite of improvement of sanitation and nutrition. In the past, epidemics like Cholera, Plague, Diphtheria, Small Pox have wiped out thousands of people. Now-a-days epidemics have been controlled and they do not take such a heavy toll of life; nevertheless they continue to occur from time to time and cause much distresses, disabilities and deformities.
Let us consider the role of Homœopathy in Community Health maintenance. The WHO have defined Health as “a state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”(This is exactly Homœopathy). An infectious disease results as a result of interaction between a host and an agent within an appropriate environment. The susceptible host provides adequate living conditions for the invading infecting agent. If the host does not provide adequate conditions for the infecting agent to proliferate, infectious diseases cannot take their hold. The biological defence against infectious agents inherent in the person must be aroused when it is not of its own accord alive enough to defend and throw out the invader. This exactly is what the Homœopathic medicine does. Homœopathy does not introduce any foreign organism into the healthy person’s biology but by its peculiar mode of administration of remedies in highly attenuated and ‘potentisation’ process and totally-free from adversely affecting-drug-content arouses the inherent defences of the individual’s biology so that the infectious agent does not find a welcome host. Hahnemann’s concept of a Physician is as a ‘Preserver of Health’ who should know how to remove things that derange health and cause diseases.
The highest ideal is rapid, gentle and permanent restoration of health in the shortest, most reliable and most harmless way. The founder of Homœopathy has, nearly 175 years ago [now 200 years = KSS], defined Health as ‘a state of harmonious functioning of the life-force leading to a total sense of well-being’. Is it not the same which the WHO have recently declared? Homœopathy’s principles have this practical view of ‘health’ and ‘disease’ and its therapeutics have been based so as to bring about such a ‘state of total well-being’ of every ‘individual’ who suffers from ‘dis-ease’. Homœopathy breaks the vicious circle of ‘infection → disease → depleted defence → host for further infection’ and actually builds up defence. When the infectious agent does not find a congenial host, it cannot thrive and thus get eradicated in due course.
Some of the common infectious disease and those that take the form of epidemics are:
1. Cholera, gastroenteritis and such other diarrhoeal diseases
2. Influenza, Dengue, PUO
3. Measles, Chicken Pox
4. Poliomyelitis, encephalitis
8. Other viral, seasonal epidemics and endemics
As long as man exists he cannot escape risk of illness of some form or other. Total eradication of diseases is a myth; if some are eradicated others will continue to affect. It is therefore far prudent to make the host, namely the man, resistant to diseases. As stated earlier this is what Homœopathy professes to do.
The major advantages of homœopathic therapy in preventive and curative fields are:
1. Cost of medicine per person is very low and therefore more population can be covered with far less expenditure to the Government.
2. The homœopathic medicines are easily stored, have long shelf-life and they can be carried and administered easily. No refrigeration or special equipments are needed for their administration.
3. No adverse side effects or iatrogenic diseases.
4. The medicines are selected on the basis of signs and symptoms observed on sick persons and the medicines are chosen and administered immediately without awaiting results of laboratory tests for ascertaining the pathogen; thus in most cases the disease is aborted from running through its full course leaving a totally exhausted, wrecked person.
The efficiency of the Homœopathic medicines in preventing infection and epidemic diseases have been repeatedly verified all over the world at different times. The cure and prevention of Asiatic Cholera by HAHNEMANN himself and his followers, when Cholera was raging in Europe during 1831 is the first of such verifications. HAHNEMANN had also prescribed prophylaxis for other serious epidemics of those days like Scarlet fever, Purple fever, Small-pox and Influenza. He gave, of course, much importance to hygiene, sanitation and nutrition and even clothing but also sought to prevent outbreak of infectious diseases which turn as epidemics, by medicinal treatment. Homœopaths must, therefore follow him and direct their attention towards propagation of hygiene, sanitation, preventive medicine and maintenance of health of the community. Only in that way can the Community be served Health.
Government must utilize the services which Homœopathy confidently offers, for the maintenance of Community health. Homœopathic prophylactic medicines should be administered during threats of epidemics. I have already given, briefly, some of the really major advantages of homœopathic prophylaxis and health maintenance. A committee of Homœopathic physicians may be appointed or the Homœopathic Medical Association of India can be asked to furnish plans for such a programme and also suggest prophylactic remedies to be prescribed. Individual Homœopathy Practitioners should continue to prescribe prophylactic remedies to their patients and patients’ families and advise other measures like family planning, sanitation, personal hygiene.
“I maintain that, initially, epidemics are illness of isolated individuals, which could be easily subjugated and they only degenerate into an angel of general destruction by carelessness and ignorance. If I omit a prolonged spell of unhealthy weather conditions, penury and poverty, the remaining fault falls almost entirely on institutions, nurses and doctors, who alone by their bad behavior change a medium illness into a serious one.” (Hahnemann, 1781). Kindly ponder over this.
[There are instances in which Government initiated ‘homœopathic’ preventives e.g. some years ago Japanese Encephalitis in the State of Andhra Pradesh was well controlled by Belladonna distributed by the Government of Andhra Pradesh throughout the large state, in some other parts of the Country too there have been such events, but unfortunately, we do not have any reliable data on these. It has been reported that very recently in Cuba spread of Leptospirosis was “remarkably” controlled by homœopathic Nosode distributed by the Government to millions of people. Incidentally, the ‘Health for All’ declaration made at Alma Ata in 1978 has been dropped! = KSS. APRIL 2012.]