03 May 2007 04:39 pm

Natural Doctors International

In my previous post I mentioned an observation made by Orac in relation to a story about real doctors consulting chiropractors. It was part of a much larger post entitled, Missionaries of Woo on the Respectful Insolence blog that deserves mention in it’s own right:

GruntDoc’s anecdote got me thinking about another case of wildly inappropriate use of alternative medicine. It’s a case that came up on a mailing list that I subscribe to, and it caused a fair amount of discussion. In essence, I’m talking about an organization called Natural Doctors International. It is, in essence, Doctors Without Borders, except with woo. This is what they do:

Natural Doctors International provides free healthcare
services to underserved communities by offering volunteer medical rotations for licensed naturopathic physicians and other Complimentary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) practitioners worldwide.

Natural Doctors International

  • Offers long-term volunteer rotations for naturopathic physicians.
  • Provides donations of medicine, medical supplies, and equipment.
  • Establishes and develops community projects that improve health.
  • Organizes short term medical brigades for ND’s, DO’s, DC’s, MD’s NP’s, herbalists, acupuncturists, and Lac’s that deliver free health care.

Yep, it’s just what developing nations need: More non-evidence-based medicine.

Orac goes on to discuss the situation in depth and then writes:

Certainly, they should be applauded for their desire to help. However,
there’s help, and then there’s effective help. This sort of “help” could well be worse than no help at all. What these impoverished regions need is not more woo, but more scientific medicine.

He concludes with the following:

Finally, what is one really huge cause of morbidity and mortality
among infants in such countries? It’s something that we in developed
countries hardly even think about because it is not a problem. I’m
talking about infectious diarrhea, which claims 1.5 million children a
year worldwide. You may also remember that I discussed a clinical trial
examining the effect of homeopathy on infectious diarrhea and
questioned the ethics of using woo in Third World nations. At least the
clinical trial was done with some supervision by physicians; letting
loose naturopaths would guarantee no oversight.

It’s an old cliche that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Here I see good intentions and a dirt road…

I think we should look on the bright side.

This may be the perfect opportunity for those fake doctors
to learn just how ineffective their nonsense is when faced with real sickness
and disease. I mean can you imagine some chiropractor actually attempting to
treat malaria or AIDS? One commenter summed up my feelings exactly:

My understanding is that in the U.S. most so-called alternative
medicine practitioners usually treat the “worried well,” folks with
problems which tend to heal themselves, or people with chronic
conditions which fluctuate over time. Something tells me that this is
not the sort of thing that’s going to be coming into third world
emergency clinics.

For some Natural Healers, it could be a rather rude awakening. How
many acupuncturists, homeopaths, and Reiki Masters in the local
“Wellness Clinic” at the strip mall have had their patients regularly
die on them?

Couldn’t have said it better myself.


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