Wednesday, 20 January 2010

TB and Homeopathy

Now, it’s not my job to pick apart every link that Dr Nancy Malik posts on twitter and this is the last one I promise. I am only going to do this one because it is so easy. She posted a link to homeopathic treatment of TB. This pricked my interest because I used to work on a respiratory ward and so have seen the very successful treatment of this nasty disease.
The page starts out as review of TB, it symptoms and causes. This is all well and good, although it does look like and cut and paste job and a lot of the language is quite detailed Medical speak (I don’t wish to patronise Homeopaths but u suspect that many of them have not done 5 years at medical school followed by all the in Hospital training that follows that.)
There are several interesting parts to this article, the first being in the section headed “Case Finding Tools” by which I think they mean “Diagnostic Tools” but I’m being picky. In hospital, if we suspected TB due to symptoms such as persistent cough, high temperature and Haemoptysis (all included it this section), we would do a chest x-ray and do Sputum culturing. Sputum culturing is a bit dull but is very easy. You just get the patient to cough some flob into a pot first thing in the morning on 3 successive days. Send them off to the lab and a couple of days later you get a nice result. Here’s what the article says about Sputum culture “culture of sputum is only second in importance in a case finding programme. It is not only difficult, tedious, lengthy and expensive but also needs special training and expertise.” Difficult and tedious? Not really but “needs special training and expertise”? Does not all diagnosing of disease? Are homeopaths not specially trained? Do they not have expertise? After all Dr: Felix James claims to be an MD(Hom), I’m assuming that the Hom. is homeopathy, is that not special training or did he just save up tokens form the back of cornflakes packets for his MD? Personally I would like my health problem diagnosed by someone who has had special training.
I think that this shows the lack of intellectual rigour that pervades the whole homeopathic community; medicine is a bit hard so let’s just make something up.

The other part of the article that interested me was the numbers bit. I love numbers; they can tell you so much. In this case they can tell you the Medicine works very well thank you very much.
Here is the Data they present for the UK,

England and Wales:
346 / 1,00,000 in mid 19th century
126 / 1,00,000 at beginning of this century
31 / 1,00,000 in 1951
6.7/ 1,00,000 in 1960

Note the large drop off in deaths from 1951 to 1960. The reason for this is two fold. 1) in 1953 the BCG vaccine against TB was introduced into the UK and there was a wide take up. 2) in 1952 Triple antibiotic therapy was bought in. You see, we got on top of it without the use of magic water. Science at work there people. Oh and Anti-Vax idiots, proof I think you’ll find that vaccines do save lives and they do work.
Whilst we are at it let’s look at a few more numbers, here is a link to the Health Protection Agency. This table shows morality rates up to 2007 and it has fallen to 0.7 per 100,000 in 2006.
We reached this level in the mid-80’s and it hasn’t dropped of any more which is annoying but can be explained, I think, though population migration.

There then follows the list of things that can be treated and by what, is one of those things Cancer? Does it say that? I’m not sure but let’s point them in the direction of the 1939 Cancer Act just to make sure they are not claiming that.

I’ll stop now; I’m beginning to bore myself.

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