Representing the Homeopathy Profession in Europe
– EST 1990 –
The European Council for Classical Homeopathy (ECCH) was founded in June 1990 when representatives of established professional homeopathy associations from Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and the United Kingdom met for the first time in the Netherlands. Partly because of the growing awareness of the impact of the European Union on homeopathy, the representatives agreed that it was time to form a common platform for the homeopathy profession in Europe and so brought ECCH into being. Now, 18 years later, ECCH has a current membership of 25 associations of homeopaths from 22 countries with applications from new associations in the pipeline. It is run by a part-time paid executive and four officers who liaise and work together in between the twice yearly Council meetings. Council meetings take place in the Spring and Autumn of each year and rotate between countries where there are member associations which offer to host them.
Supporting National Associations
The Council’s primary work is to support its national member associations in their own political and professional development so that patients will have access to high quality homeopathic treatment from educated and regulated professionals. The regulatory situation facing the homeopathy profession in each country in Europe is extremely varied with practice being legally prohibited in some countries, tolerated in others and positively regulated in others. A full overview of the regulatory situation in each country can be found in ECCH’s report ‘The Legal Situation for the Practice of Homeopathy in Europe’ (2006) available on the ECCH web-site (http://www.homeopathy-ecch.org/) under ECCH Documents *.
Representation at European Level
ECCH’s other main role is to represent the homeopathy profession politically and professionally at an international level and particularly with the political institutions of the European Union. In order to support this work ECCH has strategically engaged with a number of institutions and organisations. ECCH has NGO Participatory Status with the Council of Europe, is an Associate Member of the European Public Health Alliance (a broad alliance of health concerned NGOs), is a member of the Health and Environment Alliance (an alliance of health NGOs concerned with the impact of environmental factors on health), is a Corresponding Member of the European Coalition of Homeopathic and Anthroposophic Medicines Manufacturers (representing 57 manufacturers of homeopathic and anthroposophic medicinal products in Europe) and is a founding member of the European Forum for Complementary and Alternative Medicine(EFCAM).
One major breakthrough that has come about from consistent lobbying of the EU by ECCH together with other organisations over the years, is that for the first time reference to Complementary and Alternative Medicine is included in the current EU Public Health Framework and Research and Development Framework documents.
Feedback on EU Policy
ECCH regularly responds to consultations from the EU Commission on various issues to do with health and pharmaceuticals policy. Earlier this year we responded to a consultation of the important subject of Pharmacovigilance, last year we responded to one on Health Services and we are currently responding to one on Patient Safety from our perspective.
A Portfolio of ECCH Documents
In order to carry out its work ECCH has developed a portfolio of policy and information documents. These documents assist the development work of its member associations and support the ECCH officers and member association representatives in working with national and international government institutions on policy work. Examples are:
- European profile of a homeopath
- The Legal Situation for the Practice of Homeopathy in Europe
- Homeopathy: Its place and potential in Integrated Healthcare in Europe
- ECCH Pharmacy Report: An ECCH Report on The Availability and Quality of Homeopathic Medicines in Europe
- European guidelines for homeopathic education
These and a number of other documents are available from ECCH’s web-site under ‘ECCH Documents ‘.
Homeopathic Medicines are Regulated by the EU
One very important area where the EU has a direct impact on homeopathy is the area of homeopathic medicines. ECCH engaged in lobbying on the first EU directive that specifically focused on homeopathic medicines and was introduced in 1992. When the EU medicines legislation was reviewed in 1997 we contributed to the consultation and lobbied MEPs in the European Parliament about our concerns. Similarly when all EU pharmaceutical legislation was reviewed and integrated into one overarching piece of legislation in 2004 we had meetings with MEPs and the EU Commission. In order to clearly put forward our views we created an ECCH policy document entitled ‘The Availability and Quality of Homeopathic Medicines in Europe’. This is available on the web-site too.
The Availability of Homeopathic Medicines Under Threat
Since the provisions for homeopathic medicines have been integrated into the main EU pharmaceutical legislation there have arisen problems with the availability of some medicines in some EU countries. This is because the national medicines agencies concerned, have interpreted and implemented the regulations for homeopathic medicines in such a demanding and costly way as to cause the manufacturers in those countries to stop producing certain medicines. Nosodes have been particularly affected. This has meant that practitioners in the countries concerned now have to buy some of their remedies from other countries.
We have been working hard in this area and regularly attend meetings with representatives of the manufacturers in ECHAMP. Last year we attended meetings in Bonn, Germany and The Hague, Holland hosted by the respective national medicines agencies of those countries to address the issues of availability. Additionally in 2007 we were consulted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on a policy document they are developing on the safety and quality of homeopathic medicines, first responding to a draft of their document, then attending a 3 day workshop in Milan, Italy. This document should be published later this year.
Educational and Professional Standards
The homeopathy profession is an emergent health profession that has made great strides in its educational development over the past 30 years, so much so that homeopathy is now being taught in universities at undergraduate and post-graduate degree level in the UK and one or two other countries. One document that is recognised as having played an important role in stimulating and guiding that development worldwide is ECCH’s ‘Guidelines for homeopathic education’. First written 15 years ago by a working group of homeopathy education specialists it has since been revised once and is about to undergo a further revision. The document sets out the recommended curriculum of education and training necessary to develop a homeopath who is safe and competent to practise as an independent healthcare professional in any country. An accompanying complementary document strongly recommends that courses of homeopathic education should be accredited by national professional associations that are independent from any courses.
Other ECCH policy documents offer guidance to new associations on establishing codes of ethics and disciplinary procedures and on continuing professional development (CPD), the two linchpins that ensure the ongoing safe and competent practice of homeopaths once their primary education is completed and they are in professional practice.
Conferences and Seminars
Over the years ECCH has run a number of events such as case conferences and seminars on the topics of education and research. In 2007 for the first time ECCH jointly participated with the European Committee for Homeopathy, the organisation representing homeopathic doctors in Europe, in advising on and promoting the celebratory 20th Anniversary Homeopathic Links conference which saw over 1000 homeopaths gather together in Heidelberg, Germany at a very successful 3 day event.
The work of ECCH is broad-based, multi-faceted and necessary. It is an organisation operating in the global political reality facing all healthcare professions. The internationally established identity of a profession of homeopaths with common standards and values helps strengthen each association at the national level. The fact that it has survived the last 18 years and established itself in a position of respect and influence is a tribute to those few representatives who had the vision to establish it 18 years ago and to the combined work of all the national representatives and officers who have taken time away from their practices to carry the vision forward and establish it as a solid reality.
Not everyone wants to get involved in the kind of work that ECCH carries out on behalf of the profession, but it is hoped that every homeopath in practice and the student homeopaths of the future will support those representatives that do, in the interests of the profession and of the millions of patients across Europe and around the World who need homeopathy to help resolve their health problems.
*ECCH Documents available at
ECCH General Secretary
EDITOR’S NOTE: Stephen Gordon passed away in 2018.
ECCH Web-site: http://www.homeopathy-ecch.eu
Email address: [email protected]