Homeopathy in South Africa

Homeopathy in South Africa

Homeopathy was introduced in the late 1820s by missionaries from Europe, chiefly the Germans, although many Dutch settlers brought it with them. There were few doctors and many lay people with domestic books - mostly Hering's and Guernsey's. There was one doctor listed in Transvaal in 1931, but there were 15 chemists carrying homeopathic remedies. "The public demands homeopathy," said E. P. Hoyle in 1931.

The first homeopathic pharmacy in the Transvaal was opened in 1941 by Willem Last. The Homeopathic Society of South Africa was started in 1949 by Barbara MacFarland who had studied homeopathy while in England. In 1951 Bill Lilly, trained in England, started the first small learning group for lay people and by 1953 had produced the first crop of non-medical practitioners. Lilly helped form the South African Naturopathic and Homeopathic Association.

By the mid-1950s the few homeopathic physicians joined forces with the lay homeopaths to keep homeopathy alive. In 1956, Lindlahr College was established and trained students in homeopathy, naturopathy, and osteopathy. It ran a 4-year part-time course. Noel Puddephatt lectured at Lindlahr in 1964.

The Homeopathic Medical College of South Africa (Johannesburg) was established soon after as a five-year resident school and "fully registered with the Ministry of Health in South and West Africa for the practice of Homeopathic Medicine." The course allowed successful students to register and practice in South Africa as homeopaths, and was run as a part-time series for three years.

By 1974 there were several colleges running, some of lesser repute. The Government stepped in, and under the Act of 1974, closed the colleges. The schools were given some time to close and to allow enrolled students to complete their studies. By 1980 all were closed.

In 1974, the government established a registration procedure for those already in practice, and about 400 homeopaths qualified, but it allowed no entrance to new practitioners. The register was re-opened in 1985. In 1982 a new Act was passed, giving statutory guidelines for education and allowing for new educational institutions to open up.

After this time, Natal Technikon started the first Homeopathic course, a six-year qualification. Later on (1992), Witwatersrand Technikon also started a course. There are also a group of MDs studying with David Lilly, who runs the British Faculty of Homeopathy Course in South Africa. In 1996 Lilly formed the South African Homeopathic Medical Association, along with medical doctors who had studied homeopathy under him.

Classical homeopathy is still in its infancy in South Africa, but there are some dedicated lay homeopaths who are classically oriented and some MD homeopaths practicing. There are 443 registered homeopaths. David Lilly has trained 38 MFHom's and there atre another 57 students still in process.