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Homeopathy in Cuba

Stephen Kayne recently returned to the UK from The Second International Congress on Homeopathic Pharmacological Research that was held in Havana, Cuba, July 19--22. I thought a report might be of interest to our readers! Travel by US citizens to this blockaded island has been prohibited for 37 years, and those who do go either enter legally on an educational/cultural exchange tour or sneak in illegally by way of another country like Canada or Mexico. Homeopathy, however, is very much alive, as Stephen Kayne reports.

Brazilian homeopaths offered the first formal training in medical homeopathy in Cuba in 1993. Other health professions followed shortly after. There are now a total of 922 homeopaths in Cuba including 320 physicians, 141 dentists, 161 pharmacists and 220 veterinary surgeons. In the capital city, Havana, 153 physicians, 100 dental surgeons and 52 pharmacists have successfully completed a one-year diploma course in homeopathy. There is a national curriculum coordinated by a national academic group, and a peer group evaluates the effectiveness of the teachers. Collaboration at the postgraduate level has come from Mexico, Belgium, Brazil and Italy. Development is hampered by a shortage of literature and remedies, particularly in the hospital environment.

Provision of homeopathy in Cuba

There has been rapid progress with the provision of homeopathy since its introduction to the island republic in 1992 by some Mexican homeopaths. Now all Havana municipalities offer homeopathic facilities through family doctors and other centers. 67% of the 55 "polyclinics" offer homeopathy among other specialties. The 141 dentists collectively have performed 667 extractions with the aid of "homeopathic anesthesia," usually oral Hypericum 200C. In 1998 there were 32,219 homeopathic consultations in Havana and 25,678 in the rest of the nation. The picture is somewhat confused because homeopathy is officially subsumed under the heading "Traditional Medicine" by the health authorities but it is known that there is considerable sympathy for the discipline within the government.

The Congress

The Congress attracted a total of 250 Cuban delegates and 48 foreigners from South America, USA, and Scotland. The opening ceremony included a charming compilation of songs and dances representing the countries present. The choice of "Yellow Submarine" for Britain and Jamaica seemed a bit strange, but was appreciated nevertheless!

There was an interesting collection of papers presented including: a call for the establishment of a consensus view of the homeopathic terminology and an expression of the philosophical and metaphysical basis of homeopathy; quality control of mother tinctures; and observational studies. One paper reported that calcium remedies in three ascending potencies appeared to be successful in treating osteoporosis. The veterinary presentations were especially interesting; claims for the effectiveness of homeopathy as a growth promoter for animals in the food chain were made, and various treatments for mastitis suggested.

Among the posters on display was one relating to emergency homeopathic treatment at the International Airport. Almost all the 200 patients who were treated there were clinically better within 20 minutes. 49 different remedies were used, the most popular being Baryta carb and Nux vomica. In an outbreak of Varicella, resolution of the condition was halved to eight days compared to controls, with the use of individualized remedies. Two posters indicated that homeopathy was pharmo-economically successful in reducing costs. Another poster reported that highly significant results (p

The overall standard of work was variable; some was lacking in basic technique. This will need to be addressed if the work is to gain wider exposure. However, the broad range of research being carried out was impressive and our colleagues are to be congratulated on their efforts and commitment to homeopathy.

About the author:

Stephen Kayne is the Pharmacy Tutor to the UK Faculty of Homœopathy, an Adviser to UK and several other governments on homeopathic regulatory affairs, and author of the textbook Homœopathic Pharmacy. He is a member of the multidisciplinary Research Group based at Glasgow Homœopathic Hospital in Scotland.