An Interview with Jeremy Sherr
Q: How is the HHA project going?
Very well! This is the most challenging and satisfying work we’ve ever done. We have made great progress with developing clinics, outreach programs and sustainable food programs. Together with our volunteers, we’ve helped over 5,000 people since we started in late 2008. The patients are very happy with what homeopathy has to offer, as are the local health authorities.
Q: How are the results?
Excellent. We are positively surprised on a daily basis. The people living with HIV/AIDS show great improvement very quickly, both in the symptoms of AIDS and in the side effects of their antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. We are touched daily by the tragedies we see, and daily we are amazed at what homeopathy can achieve. People here need all the help they can get. Our work is just a drop in the ocean of suffering, yet each individual we can help is a whole world.
Q: Are the results showing in blood tests?
Definitely. Most patients have CD4 blood tests every 3-6 months and in many cases we see a great improvement. Doctors are positively surprised and very encouraging.
Q: Have you noticed a difference between working with patients from Europe and the USA?
I have been working in Europe and the USA for over 35 years and I can say that the African population seems to respond even more quickly. They also have a deep understanding of the homeopathic process and medicine. They adapt to it easily and appreciate it.
Q: What is it that your patients like about homeopathy?
The patients here love the fact that it is a natural medicine, that it treats the spirit as well as the body, and that it is free of charge. But most of all they appreciate that it really helps them and has no side effects.
Q: Are the patients taking conventional medicine as well?
About 90% of our patients are taking ARV medication.
Q: What about the other 10%?
Some patients are HIV positive but still have a relatively high CD4 count. Doctors have to follow government policy. They will not give them medication unless their CD4 count makes them eligible for ARVs.
Q: Are there any other conventional medications these patients can take before they reach the level that justifies ARV medication?
No. There is nothing else available for HIV except broad spectrum antibiotics, which are rapidly becoming less effective, or specific treatment for opportunistic infections such as TB.
Q: Do you ever stop the patients from taking ARVs?
Absolutely not. Homeopathy is a complementary medicine and it works alongside ARV medication. We send any prospective patients who have not yet been to the hospital for checkups and medical advice. We also request that all patients to see their doctors regularly and follow their instructions.
Q: What is the difference between the results with homeopathy and with ARVs?
There is no doubt that ARV medications prolong life in many cases. However, there are many severe side effects where the suffering is intense, with symptoms ranging from severe continuous itching to nerve disorders, weakness, distorted body shapes, vomiting, diarrhea and nightmares disturbing sleep. These, and many more, are well documented, but it is a different matter to experience and observe them. Homeopathy stimulates the immune system and increases people’s overall health and well being.
Q: Does homeopathy help with these ARV side effects?
Most definitely. Many of the side effects of ARVs improve within a week of starting homeopathy. There is no doubt that homeopathy helps patients with ARV compliance.
Q: What do you mean by compliance?
Compliance means taking your medication regularly and on time. This is one of the biggest problems with ARV treatment, because non-compliance results in resistance to the drug, which can cause treatment failure. Side effects are one of main reasons for poor compliance. By reducing side effects, homeopathy helps patients stick to their ARV regime. This is the benefit of homeopathy and conventional medicine working in an integrative way.
Q: Are there other problems with ARVs?
Patients who do not eat regular, nutritious meals react badly to these drugs. Many of them cannot afford even one meal a day. Furthermore, the trip to town to get ARVs is often beyond the patients’ financial means. Recently the Tanzanian government reduced the budget for ARVs by 25%. When the first line of drugs stops working, there is a second line to follow, but that is all that is available in Tanzania. When the second line runs out, that is it. There is no more HIV treatment. In comparison, many patients in the West are on the 10th (or more) line of ARVs.
Q: So how does homeopathy help?
Along with an improvement in CD4 blood counts, there are quick and definite improvements in energy levels and many other symptoms. There is also a big improvement in general wellbeing, appetite, dreams and emotional states. The increase in energy we see with nearly every patient is in itself a life saver. Patients who were confined to bed, and their families to hunger, can now work.
Q: Does homeopathy have any side effects?
None. We have not seen any and none have been reported. No study has ever shown negative side effects of homeopathic treatment.
Q: What are the outreach programs you are offering and why are they needed?
Many patients are too sick and weak to visit our clinics or hospitals. Others simply can’t afford the transportation to town. They have no option but to lie in their huts dying, while they watch their children starve. Many of these children are also sick with HIV. It is these people we try to help with the outreach programs.
Q: What about the food projects?
From an early stage of the project we saw how serious the poverty situation was. Many patients could not afford one meal a day for their children and some had not eaten for days. This is even worse for people with HIV/AIDS, especially widows with small children. As a result, we have started garden projects, where the members of the AIDS groups attend to communal gardens which supply food for themselves and some to sell. To help with this we have bought them seeds, chickens and pigs. We are also running a “porridge project” where we supply patients with a nutritious mix of porridge.
Q: Could it be that the patients are responding so well to the food and not the homeopathy?
No. We have seen the results from homeopathy many times before starting the food program and, unfortunately, we cannot afford food programs for all our patients. As long as the patients are improving, healthy and happy, so are we.
Q: Are you operating legally in Tanzania?
Yes. Homeopathy is a recognized and encouraged medicine in Tanzania and we have the full support of local and national organisations. The authorities are very happy with our activities. The biggest problem is that our supply cannot meet the demand.
Q: Who is funding you?
We operate mostly from contributions from well-meaning individuals, often homeopaths and patients from developed countries. Seeing this is often insufficient, we also contribute from our own savings.
Q: What about the big foundations? Isn’t there a lot of money out there for AIDS and Africa?
We have applied to many large foundations and though we haven’t been successful up to now we will continue to do so. Some sources require statistical evidence, which in itself is difficult to supply without serious funding, so that can be a bit of a Catch 22. We chose to remain focused on the needs of our patients. Over five thousand people have benefited from having access to integrative medicine, homeopathy and a more holistic approach. We are hopeful that, once philanthropists and big donors realise what we have achieved here, their thinking will shift and they will be inspired to support us. We remain confident that the funds we need will be forthcoming. You can help us by sharing this information with others.
Q: Is there homeopathic research available?
Yes, there is a lot of very positive and extensive homeopathic research and an impressive history of successful treatment of epidemics. Some particularly rigorous research in Cuba recently showed dramatic results in preventing leptospirosis in over 2 million people. Many peer-reviewed medical journals have published positive homeopathic research. As yet there is little formal research on AIDS and homeopathy, although there has been some preliminary work on this. Homeopathic practitioners all over the world are experiencing very positive results with AIDS.
Q: Do you plan to do any research?
We have had several academic bodies approach us on this subject. We hope to be able to undertake research in the future. Tanzanian health authorities are very strict on these issues, and rightly so. Any research we undertake would have to be approved by the national ethical review committee. They have high standards and are well aware of local conditions, which many Western research scientists, who have not been to Africa, do not understand.
Q: What kind of homeopathy do you use?
We use classical homeopathy based on the principles of Hahnemann’s Organon. We think it is the most consistent and scientific form of homeopathy and holds the answers to the bigger picture of the pandemic.
Q: Do you treat other diseases?
Yes, we treat many other diseases. While our main focus is AIDS, nearly everyone here has malaria, for example, and we are getting excellent results treating it homeopathically. Conventional malaria medications are very expensive (10$ a week, more than most people earn) and cause serious side effects, which is why many are too frightened to take them. Homeopathy yields rapid improvement, no side effects, and an impressive reduction in parasite count. Patients often take conventional medication together with homeopathy as there are no contraindications.
Q: How can I help?
We need your moral support, and we need funds. If you or anyone you know can contribute directly or by organizing fundraising activities, we and the people with HIV/AIDS in Africa would be very grateful. The more money you donate, the more we can provide life-changing homeopathy and nutritious food and help people live healthier lives. In fact, we depend on people like you for this project to continue.
Q: How is the money used?
Most of the funds go towards renting and maintaining the clinics, transportation to outreach programs, administrators, translators, a driver and a pharmacist (all local Tanzanians). If we have any left over, we buy food for our patients. All our work is done on a voluntary basis. Our remedies have been kindly donated by the following homeopathic pharmacies:
Helios Pharmacy, UK
Cemon Pharmacy, Italy
Hahnemann Pharmacy, CA, USA
Neot Shoshanim Pharmacy, Israel
Q: Are you a recognized charity?
HHA has non-profit status in Tanzania. For donation purposes, we have affiliated with non-profits in the UK, US and Israel.
Q: Can homeopaths and homeopathy students come to Tanzania and sit in with you?
Karibu: Welcome! We offer three options. If you are a homeopath or a homeopathy student, you can study with us via a two-week internship. Fully trained, practising homeopaths can also volunteer with us for a three-month period. If you are just passing by, you may also contact us to arrange for a brief visit.
Q: Do you have a parting thought to share?
Yes, Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”