Homoeopathy is a system of medicine in which minute doses of natural substances of plants, minerals and animal origin are administered to evolve a gentle and permanent cure. It was first introduced by the founder Samuel Hahnemann, a German doctor who, after abandoning medical practice that contained cruel procedures like bloodletting, earned his living by translating medical literature. During this exercise in the end of eighteenth century he discovered the golden principle of "like cures like", meaning a substance able to produce certain set of symptoms in a healthy body during proving could also subdue such symptoms present in a diseased person. He published basic philosophy of his great healing art in the Organon of Medicine, edition 1 to 5, during his lifetime from 1810 to 1833 A.D. However, its 6th edition was published decades after his death. His other wonderful publications include Materia Medica Pura and Chronic Diseases. After his demise, American homeopaths like Constantine Hering and James Taylor Kent made great contributions to evolution of the modern day homoeopathy. Kent’s Repertory is a basic tool of every homeopath even today.

Dr John Martin Honigberger from Transylvania brought homoeopathy to the subcontinent in 1839. Dr Sircar, a local allopath, considered the "Hering" of India, was the first to learn this art in 1850 and started teaching to other fellows. Before the Partition, some institutes worked well in imparting the knowledge of homoeopathy. After creation of Pakistan, most of the homeopaths here restricted them to their professional practice only. However, a few exemptions could be counted on fingers, like Dr Masood Qureshi in Garhi Shaho, Lahore who would add some homeopathic literature both in Urdu and English. However, in our neighbourhood, hundreds of homeopathic institutes have been established in both public and private sector. Some of them are Nehru Homoeopathic Medical College & Hospital, Delhi; National Institute of Homoeopathy, Kolkata; Bharatesh Homeopathic Medical College, Belgaum, Karnataka; Baroda Homeopathic Medical College, Gujarat and so on.

Similarly there are international institutes who have earned a remarkable reputation in imparting classical homeopathic education. George Vithoulkas, author of Materia Medica Viva, Essence of Homoeopathy, A New Model for Health and Disease, Levels of Health, Talks of Classical Homoeopathy and Others, has established "Academy of the Classical Homoeopathy" at Alonissos, Greece. He is not only teaching students coming from around the world but also providing an opportunity to remote areas through distance learning via online courses. Moreover, there are other well known institutes in USA, Canada and other parts of the world.

However, in Pakistan, the situation is not very hopeful. I think this is the basic shortcoming that our homeopaths could not earn any international recognition. They could not write any substantial literature on this subject that could be appreciated globally. As far as local homeopathic practice is concerned, the same is running downwards. Every homeopath is following his own check-free path without adhering to guidelines of classy Organon of Medicine. George Vithoulkas in one of his lectures narrated a situation at a homeopathic clinic at Karachi by saying, "There was everything except homoeopathy." Please also keep in mind that wrong practice is not only useless but also posing grave dangers to the health of patients. I have noticed in my own practice that best prescribed medicines do not bring desired results if patients are previously treated by untrained homeopaths with incorrect remedies and undue repetition. In order to avert such situations, it is the need of the hour that homeopathic colleges may be established in the public sector by employing entire foreign faculty for at least 10 years so that they could train a whole class of local homeopaths. Only this is the way where this great science could flourish to its heights and benefit the local community with desired results.

Another obstacle hampering the passage of true advantages of good homoeopathy to our professionals and the public at large is a lack of availability of bestseller homeopathic literature, which is otherwise available around the world. In our neighbouring India, B. Jain Publishers are working tremendously to make a variety of homeopathic books available at affordable prices. Hence our government should take steps to encourage local publishers to move forward and they may be compensated by buying a good number of locally published literature for public sector libraries. Another misery arises here and that is a lack of competence in our homeopaths to grab excellent ideas in practice globally. Some of them even don’t know basic principles given by founder Heinemann through 291 aphoras of Organon of Medicine. The National Council of Homoeopathy may formulate a mechanism that skills of homeopaths may be judged by a panel of experts before awarding them permission to practice after taking the diploma. At least an apprenticeship for a certain period may be made mandatory before practice. The government cannot afford further apathy in this regard and it has to take initiatives without wasting time.

The writer is a homeopath and can be reached at javed.homepathy@gmail.com.