News that a New Zealand MP has signed a petition asking the World Health Organisation (WHO) to use homoeopathic remedies to fight Ebola is worrying.

Green MP Steffan Browning backed the campaign started by Australian Fran Sheffield that calls on the WHO to "end the suffering of the Ebola crisis. Test and distribute homoeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks".

Not only did Mr Browning sign the petition - he actively recruited others on Facebook to support it, too.

Make what you will of homoeopathy - a branch of alternative medicine where solutions are often diluted to the point there are no active ingredients left from the original solution.


If it literally gets you to sleep at night, or cures whatever else ails you, good on you. Each to their own, and all that.

But at a certain point it does get dangerous, particularly when patients with serious conditions bypass or delay conventional treatments in order to seek homoeopathic treatment - and particularly when it comes to a disease as virulent as Ebola.

In a letter to the WHO in 2009, a group of doctors from the UK and Africa wrote: "We are calling on the WHO to condemn the promotion of homoeopathy for treating TB, infant diarrhoea, influenza, malaria and HIV. "Homoeopathy does not protect people from, or treat, these diseases. Those of us working with the most rural and impoverished people of the world already struggle to deliver the medical help that is needed. When homeopathy stands in place of effective treatment, lives are lost."

In response the WHO warned people with those conditions should not rely on homoeopathic treatments.

Yes, the WHO should examine all potentially effective remedies and solutions, but how much time and effort should this organisation be asked to spend focusing on such a controversial treatment considered by many a pseudoscience?

Time and effort that would otherwise be spent tackling Ebola head on. Mr Browning should save his signature, and influence, for more worthy causes.