While a number of sources have commented on Matthias Rath‘s now-dropped libel case against the Guardian and Ben Goldacre – links are here – I am surprised to see that the ‘alternative’ medicine community seems to have remained silent on this*. Nutritionists such as John Briffa and Patrick Holford regularly cover stories about the evils of big pharma**, while organisations like the Society of Homeopaths often comment on media coverage of medicine and health. Oddly, though, there seems to be silence on the recent coverage of Rath’s shocking activities.
So – we’re issuing an invitation here. If anyone in the ‘alternative’ medicine community would like to speak out about Rath’s activities, we’ll be pleased to link to it. Clearly, many of those working in ‘alternative medicine care deeply about their patients and about public health – and we need people to people challenge the type of horribly damaging activities that Rath has been involved in.
It is important that such challenges come from those working in ‘alternative’ medicine, as well as from blogs like this. Many people dislike what we do – to the extent that they will not trust what we say – whereas they would be more sympathetic comments from ‘alternative’ practitioners and advocates.
So – please do comment.
UPDATE: The ‘Alliance for Natural Health’ (ANH) have now commented on this. This is a truly, truly shameful response on behalf of the ‘alternative’ health industry: trying to reduce serious disagreements on matters of life and death (sadly, many deaths) to “public jibing”. Goldacre’s views are misrepresented***, and the article fails to criticise – or even mention – Rath’s involvement in unforgivable attempts to persuade people with AIDS to abandon effective anti-retroviral medication.
The ANH fail even to be consistently pathetic on this issue. They are critical of how
The dichotomy between complementary & alternative medicine (CAM) and orthodox/allopathic healthcare approaches has led to increased vilification of protagonists of each approach
Rath has, of course, made many noble attempts to move past the ‘allopathy/CAM dichotomy’. For example, his involvement in a 14/6/2003 complaint to the International Criminal Court in the Hague was clearly a brave attempt at building harmony between the two camps. In what is obviously an attempt to build constructive integrative working relationships, Rath accuses a large number of people (including many who have done good work in the field of HIV/AIDS) of
the greatest crimes ever committed in the course of human history. The accused are charged with causing injury to and the death of millions of people through the ‘business with disease’, war crimes and other crimes against humanity. These crimes fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
Do the ‘Alliance for Natural Health’ really represent ‘alternative medicine? If any of those in the field disagree, I would still be delighted to hear from you here. Surely the many well-meaning people in the ‘alternative’ medicine industry will not allow this to stand as the industry position on this issue?
UPDATE 2: JDC’s excellent blog has sought and reproduced a response from the nutritional therapy body BANT. Sadly, though, BANT states that they have “no opinion to offer on Dr Raths vitamin trials”. Does this lack of opinion represent the position of BANT’s nutritional therapist members?
UPDATE 3: Dr Aust has also posted to ask about the silence of most of those in ‘alternative’ medicine, and especially the nutritionists. Dr Aust hopes they will speak out, but for the moment
Instead, what we have is silence…A whole lot of silence…Let’s hope the nutritional therapists in particular are using this silence to take a long, hard, look at themselves.
UPDATE 4: while the ‘alternative’ silence about Rath continues, I was horrified to learn that the Dr Rath Health Foundation is one of the organisations participating in a European Social Forum (ESF) workshop on “Health – the natural way” (along with a number of what look – insofar as I can figure out with my poor language skills – like broadly ‘alternative’ organisations). The ESF is an annual gathering of many Global Justice Movements – which makes it particularly disgusting that they are allowing the Dr Rath Health Foundation to participate in a workshop, despite Rath’s despicable tactics in South Africa. To make matters worse, it appears that the ESF charges organisations to attend – so it seems that they are accepting money from the Dr Rath Foundation.
I’m not sure what to say. How can working with the Dr Rath Health Foundation – after we have seen the unnecessary death of countless South Africans – fit in with a ‘global justice’ agenda?
At the ESF in London in 2004, there were loud protests about that well-known capitalist pig-dog Ken Livingstone (the Socialist mayor of London) speaking at the event. So, what will happen about the Dr Rath Health Foundation? Given Rath’s particularly unpleasant deployment of capitalism – encouraging South Africans to abandon effective anti-retroviral medication in favour of vitamin pills, while also selling vitamin pills – will the Dr Rath Health Foundation be challenged at ESF? Or will they be allowed to promote their message unchallenged?
The seminar is at 21/9/08, 9:30-12:30, Folkets hus Nobeltorget, Biblioteket. If anyone is at the ESF, you might like to attend and raise some questions. And, please, we would be very interested to know what happens at the workshop.
* I would be delighted to be proved wrong – if I have missed any links, articles etc., tell me and I’ll add them into the post.
** I’m happy to acknowledge that many of the things that big pharma does are evil. For example, pharma’s attempts to deny South Africans access to cheap anti-retroviral drugs are unforgivable.
*** The article also refers to ‘Goldacre’ and ‘Dr Rath’: given that both are doctors, this seems somewhat petty. And, no, I’m not proud that I notice these things.