Homeopathy in the Brazilian Public Health System

Spending on homeopathy in the Brazilian Public Health System (SUS, Brazil) is negligible when compared to other medical specialties*

Marcus Zulian Teixeira**

In recent times, several articles published in the mainstream media and social networks criticize the expenditures of the Brazilian Public Health System (Sistema Único de Saúde, SUS, Brazil) with Integrative and Complementary Practices in Health (Práticas Integrativas e Complementares em Saúde, PICs), stating, untruthfully, that “billions of reais (R$) are spent with practices that do not have scientific proof”, using this justification to propose their exclusion from the SUS.

Many of these fake news are directed to homeopathy due to ignorance or prejudiced denial of its fundamentals and the scientific evidence that supports them, with the explicit intention of denigrating a medical specialty recognized for decades by the Brazilian population and class entities (Federal Council of Medicine since 1980, and Brazilian Medical Association since 1990), free from serious adverse events, contributing to the clinical resolution of many chronic diseases and gaining its rightful place in world public health and medical education.

With regard to the “scientific proof of homeopathy”, it is noteworthy that hundreds of scientific evidences support the assumptions and effectiveness of this medical specialty and secular treatment method (detailed in the Special Dossier “Scientific Evidence for Homeopathy”, published in the Revista de Homeopatia, São Paulo Homeopathic Medical Association, in 3 independent editions: online portuguese, online english and printed portuguese), which justify its inclusion in the SUS as an integrative and complementary therapy for several classes of diseases.

Just as that dossier fulfills the role of demystifying the fallacy that “there is no scientific evidence on homeopathy”, study by the researcher Islândia Maria Carvalho de Souza, specialist in health systems management, with a master’s degree and doctorate from the National School of Public Health Fiocruz (Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública Fiocruz, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) showed that spending on all PICs in the SUS, related to outpatient and hospital expenses, correspond to 0.008% of total expenses (ie, only R$ 2.6 million out of R$ 33 billion), demystifying the fallacy that “billions of reais are spent on homeopathy in the SUS”, a justification defended by dogmatic skeptic groups for removed this medical specialty from the SUS, depriving thousands of patients from receiving relief for their physical and mental grief:

“Expenditures on integrative practices in SUS correspond to 0.008% of outpatient and hospital expenses” (“Gastos com práticas integrativas no SUS correspondem a 0,008% das despesas ambulatoriais e hospitalares”)

Analogously, contrary to a similar movement in Germany calling for an end to reimbursement for homeopathic medicines on the grounds that “large amounts of taxpayers’ money were spent on this benefit”, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on 17/09/19 that your Ministry “not intended to compel health insurers in the country to stop subsidizing homeopathic services”. Without going into the merits of scientific evidence, he justified his position in the negligible expenses of this type of treatment: “while health insurance companies in the country subsidize the purchase of 40 billion euros in conventional medicines each year, reimbursement of homeopathic treatments barely reaches 20 million euros”, he said, that is only 0.0005% of spending on conventional medicines:

“Homeopathy? Leave system as it is, decides Germany’s Spahn”

With this evidence, the prejudiced, dogmatic and fallacious premises against the maintenance and expansion of the offer of homeopathy in the Brazilian Public Health System (SUS, Brazil) lose validity.


Marcus Zulian Teixeira

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**Marcus Zulian Teixeira, MD, BC Homeopathy; PhD, Medical Sciences; School of Medicine, University of São Paulo. http://www.homeozulian.med.br.