Saturday, 10 May 2008

Oh Calcutta

In January 2008 I went to Calcutta for a month to spend time at the Bengal Allen Institute. The course was organised by Dr Subrata Banerjea and was a combination of lectures and visits to slum clinics and lecturers consulting rooms. The first, and most striking thing about the trip, was that there is absolutely no animosity between homeopathy and allopathy in India. We were taught by homeopaths and also by a medical doctor, they work together in harmony. It can happen!

In India there is no form of state health system so people have to pay for all treatment themselves whether this is medication, blood tests, scans or surgery. This means they also choose what type of treatment suits them and will pay to see an allopathic doctor, a homeopath or an ayurvedic practitioner. Surgery and biopsies are expensive procedures which are financially out of the question for many people. We saw patients in the clinics from all social backgrounds, from people living in slums to a multi-billionaire shipping magnate. All of them chose homeopathy and use it because they know it works for them.

One of the criticisms levelled against homeopathy in Europe is that we spend so much time listening to patients that they are likely to feel better just because they are having a nice chat and being listened to. In India the patient certainly doesn't get time to chat but the results are still very impressive.

In one slum clinic session we saw 50 patients treated in less than 3 hours! Many of the consulting rooms were far from restful places. Often there were several students observing and a queue of patients waiting to be seen either in the same room or just outside.

Calcutta is a bustling and noisy place but I loved it and had a great time there. The clinics and lecturers were an inspiration and it was a fantastic opportunity to see a huge number of difficult cases successfully treated with homeopathy.

One of our lecturers, Dr Basu, in the consulting room at his home.