Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Cabbage: Nature's Medicine

This letter from Raymond Richards of Waikato University was published in yesterday's Herald:

As an educator , I am appalled at the news that the Government wastes more than a million dollars a year on mumbo-jumbo in the form of Maori supposed therapies . This Government claims to support a knowledge economy, yet it promotes superstition at the expense of Science .

   Taxpayers fund fanciful ideas such as chanting to treat spirits , rubbing the chest with cabbages to remove curses , and waving sticks to cleanse impurities- while cancer patients languish on hospital waiting lists . Some may have died while they waited .

   This tax-payer funding of so-called alternative therapies is supported by the NZ Charter of Health Practitioners , who can`t wait to get their hands on our money for their own forms of quackery such as homeopathy and magnet therapy .

   When I teach about evidence and critical thinking at Waikato University , this Government`s ignorance and hypocrisy will no doubt enter the discussion.

He has a point. The Tohunga Suppression Act of 1907 was introduced at the instigation of Maui Pomare (who was then Maori Health Officer) with the support of Peter Buck and Apirana Ngata, all of whom were to become leaders of Maori development. Its purpose was to stop "charlatans" who practiced traditional healing methods that did not work and often led to death, while denying Maori access to proper healthcare. The law was repealed in 1962.

Ever have the feeling we are going backwards?