Homeopathy is Officially Recognised in Belgium
May 25, 2014
As of this month, homeopathy is now officially recognized as a therapeutic discipline in Belgium, my country. The recognition as such is quite absurd, and not only because it's difficult to estimate the value of water and sugar pills as having an effect on patients.
To make a long story short, this proposal has been discussed for 15 years. In 1999, a minister (just before elections) made a law that recognized homeopathy, but did not specify actual regulation. As such, the law didn't have any effect, except that hospital insurance could now cover it, too. After a condemnation from the European Union, last year the Minister of Health started a rush job to get official regulation for "homeopaths" (there are elections this weekend...).
Representatives of homeopath associations and universities (including Wim Betz, famous Belgian skeptic) worked on the actual regulation. Initially, the input from the universities was ignored in favor of a very permissive approach, until the universities threatened to walk out. The result is a rather absurd regulation and neither party is very happy.
In brief, one can now officially be called "homeopath," but one needs to be a licensed doctor, dentist, or midwife, and one has to follow a training regimen (no such courses exist as of yet). This means that a lot of currently practicing homeopaths will now be forbidden to practice, much to the chagrin of the homeopathic associations. However, homeopathy still is recognized, and the universities aren't very happy with that either, because it simply doesn't work. The fact that only official health care providers can provide homeopathy gives it at least an aura of respectability, according to SKEPP, the Belgian-Flemish skeptical organization.
Most probably there will be some more work needed, as the regulation is quite shoddy (all involved parties except the minister agree). There is only one good thing: the active participation of skeptics like Wim Betz, who have spent hours and hours in meetings defending the scientific (and true) point of view, have managed to avoid much worse legislation. It's a small consolation.
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