A project is underway in Congress to incorporate homeopathic treatments into the Mandatory Medical Program (PMO). The PMO has guaranteed all citizens a minimum set of free medical services since its implementation in 1996. The bill’s author, deputy Paula Urroz of the pro-union alliance Unión PRO, wants to normalize and regulate homeopathy by placing its practice under the exclusive auspices of qualified health professionals. The project, introduced in March, has reopened the debate about whether homeopathy is effective.
One criticism, according to physician and Conicet researcher Ezequiel Arrieta, is that homeopathy has never been scientifically proven to work the way proponents claim it does. In 2015, Australia’s National Council for Health and Medical Research concluded, after an 11-year investigation, that “there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.” Arrieta thinks whatever successes it does have may be placebo effects. “In the last hundred or two hundred years, we have made much progress in understanding how the body works,” he said. “But homeopathy hasn’t adapted to new findings on how organs function.” It is also difficult to bring homeopathy to clinical trials, due to its degree of individualization.
The second major concern is financial. The bill does not propose a budget increase for the PMO. This gap in planning has outraged Claudio Belacopitt, president of Swiss Medical Group. “The deputies never walk through a hospital to see how their proposals strain the supply of basic resources,” she said. “Without budget expansion, individual quotas will increase.”
But doctors and patients across the world are open to homeopathy, particularly when traditional medicine does not work. The World Health Organization continues to evaluate the use of acupuncture and herbal therapies as alternative pain suppressants. In Germany, 42 percent of doctors support homeopathy. In Great Britain and Belgium, 31 percent are in favor. Latin Americans are even more zealous. In Colombia, 40 percent of the population has undergone homeopathic treatment. In Chile, the number is a whopping 71 percent.
Though Argentina has no official data on current usage, its politicians have heeded the call. The Commission of Social Action and Public Health, and the Commission of Budget and Finance, are moving ahead to review Urroz’s proposal. The bill now has 17 signatories, 11 of which are Unión PRO members.