Since it’s beginning, Homeopathy has had it’s oppressors. Today, a hidden and long-lasting
battle continues to wage between Homeopaths and the Australian Government about the right to use and practice Homeopathy.
Gerry Dendrinos, President of the AHA (Australian Homeopathic Association), is at the forefront of the charge. His fight to defend Homeopathy has spanned many years, and he along with the AHA have quietly and relentlessly worked to keep Homeopathy upheld in Australia for almost a decade.
This battle has been documented in the movie Just One Drop – a must-see for Homeopath and Homeopathy users alike. Recently Gerry talked to Eugenie about the implications of this report for Australia and other countries, and what we can do to help protect our right to use Homeopathy.
What you need to know about the war on Homeopathy.
In 2011 the NHMRC leaked a statement to the Press discrediting Homeopathy. This statement triggered a review of Homeopathy by the Australian Government. The purpose of the review was to justify the statement made to the Press. At the time, Gerry Dendrinos was working at the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), and from this vantage point, could see the fraudulent handling of the review. Disillusioned, he left the TGA in 2015. ’I had an ethical concern at the way pubic money was being used to do this’.
Initially for the government, achieving a review on Homeopathy with a negative outcome would not be so easy. In 2012 the NHMRC hired a researcher from the University of South Australia to complete the review. She, having already published over 81 reviews previously for the NHMRC and even having co-written the guidelines on how to review health evidence, had a very credible standing.
Her review found ‘positive findings for Homeopathy’. She was fired three days after submitting the report. This was not reported to the public, and the initial report cost the public $70,000.
In late 2012 another contractor was hired. Again, the outcome was not wholly negative.
To achieve the outcome the NHMRC required, the protocol as to the way research was analysed had to be systematically changed. Firstly, they instigated that for a study to be reliable, it had to have at least 150 people in it. This eliminated instantly 146 studies on Homeopathy.
Secondly, they created a new series of protocols the studies must adhere to in order to be reliable. This eliminated another 25 studies, leaving five ‘reliable’ studies left – four of which were negative, and one positive.
Filtering the existing review through these perimeters, the review had now achieved a negative outcome for Homeopathy. Almost immediately, the Australian Government banned Private Health Care insurers from offering rebates for Homeopathy and 16 other health therapies. The distorted review was then used by other Governments including France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain to back changes to policies affecting the use of Homeopathy.
The uncovering of what had happened to the report was not an easy task, and Gerry and others spent three years and countless hours discovering what had happened. ‘I realised what they have done to us, government has done to other groups’.
Gerry also knew that standing up to Government was not going to be an easy task. ‘Anyone who has had to deal with challenging government will realise how difficult it is, and even when they know they’ve done the wrong thing their response is always to defend themselves against the public’.
However, they did just that. In 2015, Gerry, along with the CEO of Complementary Medicines Australia and a lawyer, went to meet with the NHMRC. They arrived to face a very nervous team of eleven. ‘They weren’t going to budge an inch so we instigated a Freedom of Information Campaign’.
In 2016 they lodged a complaint about the NHMRC review to the Ombudsman, which was accepted. The complaint included a number of ‘whistle-blower accounts’ from people inside the government. Sadly, five years later the complaint is still under process, and reviews will not be finished until 2024 or even later.
Although the biggest fight is not yet won, Gerry and the AHA have had some massive wins for Homeopathy well out of the public eye. In 2018 the Medical Board of Australia put out guidelines that were ‘essentially trying to shut down integrative doctors’. Through their organisation Your Health Your Choice, the AHA ran a campaign that garnered 10,000 supporters. ‘We made it a very public issue. We overwhelmed them and they capitulated’.
They have also managed to stop the TGA from achieving a ban on homeopathic products. ‘The campaigns we run are aimed at protecting the public from bad government decisions that take away our freedom of choice and rights in healthcare’.
However, there is still much more to be done. ‘We are not out of the woods. The Ombudsman challenge is still pending. We really need to get a positive outcome from the Ombudsman. If we don’t, that may reactivate Government’s desire to move against natural medicine and Homeopathy.
They [NHMRC] have recently given the review to the same contractor that is under investigation by the Ombudsman. We fear the writing is on the wall. The battle is exhaustive and draining on time and finances’.
What You Can Do to Help
In 2017 the AHA set up the Your Health Your Choice campaign which currently has over 116,000 supporters. The campaign seeks to lobby the government against policies that threaten the use of Homeopathy and other natural therapies, and has already achieved massive successes. You can sign up here at ‘yourhealthyourchoice.com.au’ and join the multitude of homeopathy users encouraging homeopathy to prevail.
Another way to support Gerry and the Australian Homeopath Association (AHA) is to make a direct donation to the AHA, or become a member and enjoy benefits. Join here at https://www.homeopathyoz.org/become-a-member.
‘If any of you are inspired to donate to the AHA or Your Health Your Choice it’s always appreciated…we appreciate whatever help people are willing to provide’.
Supporting the Homeopathy Research Institute also helps create good quality scientific studies evidencing homeopathy as a credible therapy. ‘If we want to be taken seriously as a medicinal system we do need to produce the research to back it up…HRI are very very good, top-level scientists, and they are the first to admit when a certain data set is poor quality or not very well done. That means they are very honest about showing the studies that are good quality, that are rigorous and can’t be faulted’. Read the latest research or donate by heading here https://www.hri-research.org.
The end-user of homeopathy is also just as key to it’s ultimate survival. ‘What I would say to people is just use it, tell your friends about it, just empower yourselves’.
Gerry, who describes himself as ‘tenacious’ has contributed some of the most important work in our time for homeopathy. Without him, the AHA, and the many Your Health Your Choice contributors and supporters, our ability to use homeopathy would be in dire peril.