On 29 April 1999, in line with the international and national recommendations on complementary and alternative medical (CAM) therapies expressed by bodies such as the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, the Belgian Parliament voted in the Colla Law in order to initially regulate practitioners of four of the most popular CAM practices in Belgium: acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and osteopathy.
In the years to follow professional bodies for these practices were founded and accredited by the Ministry of Health, among which the Liga Homeopathica Classica was established for homeopathy. The Liga established high standards for the education and professional profile of homeopaths in line with the guidelines of the European Central Council of Homeopaths in preparation for an eventual specific legal framework for the profession.
Eventually, after legal pressure was brought to bear, the Ministry of Health set up 4 commissions, one for each practice, in order to establish the specific details concerning the regulation the four disciplines. Unfortunately the homeopathy commission was neither democratically constituted, nor did they include adequate representation of the most important interest of all, patients and citizens.
On Monday 12 May 2014, 15 years after the Colla Law was introduced, a Royal Decree was published by the Ministry of Health that completely denies the autonomy of the profession of the homeopath and deprives Belgian patients of their freedom of choice to have homeopathic treatment now and into the future.
The final conditions established to be legally allowed to practise homeopathy are:
- practitioners have to be qualified as a medical doctor, dentist or midwife
Thereby instantly denying the many homeopathy practitioners in Belgium who have practised for many years and paid into the Belgian taxation system the right to their livelihood.
- have a degree in homeopathy from an official college or university
Nobody in Belgium meets this second condition because homeopathy up until now was only taught in private schools, whether to practitioners or medical doctors. Moreover, the deans of the faculties of medicine have recently declared that homeopathy does not belong in a medical curriculum and refuse to allow it to be taught at their universities. This means that in the future no-one, doctors included, will be able to undertake the required education to be able to practise homeopathy as required by the Law.
A further stipulation says that doctors, dentists and midwives can only prescribe homeopathy for indications for which efficacy is evidence-based. This practically reduces the practice of homeopathy to 'clinical homeopathy' based only on a medical diagnosis, and leaves no room for the holistic and individualised approach of homeopathy that was originally meant to be the ‘added value’ of integrating CAM practices in health care.
We regret that Health Minster Mme Onkelinx and the Belgian Government have missed the opportunity to realise the primary objectives of the Colla Law and the spirit in which it was written, and in effect to have completely negated them. In doing so they are completely ignoring the many voices of patients who now cannot consult the homeopath they choose. This reactionary piece of legislation stands in direct contrast to the far more constructive and progressive piece of legislation introduced in Portugal in 2013 that regulates 7 CAM therapies including homeopathy, setting high standards for their education and practice. (Lei 71/2013)
It is ECCH's view that this unjust execution of the Colla Law must be fought and overturned. To do this we are supporting the call of our Belgian colleagues for financial support to build a legal fighting fund.
If you believe the Belgian government have got it wrong please help.
Donations to the fighting fund can be transferred to the bank account of the Liga Homeopathica Classica in Belgium:
IBAN : BE 75 777 59279 3651
BIC : GKCCBEBB
entitled ‘Help for classical homeopathy’