Homeopathy has been gaining traction in the UAE – so much so that major insurance firms have included it in their coverage and more pharmacies are stocking up on homeopathic medicines.
Popular medical insurance companies, such as Bupa, Oman Insurance, Nextcare, AXA, ADNiC, Neuron and NAS, also cover homeopathic treatments.
However, France’s recent decision to stop reimbursing patients for homeopathic treatment from 2021 has become the talk of the town in local communities, with many wondering whether the move would affect the popularity of the practice in the UAE.
“The popularity of homeopathy is increasing each year in UAE. For many residents here, it is the first choice of treatment for common ailments. Even in France it did not stop licensing homeopathy, it just stopped funding homeopathy in public sector,” said Ahammed PK.
So far, homeopathy has not been banned anywhere. In fact, it is well accepted in the Middle East, India and Western Europe, experts said.
The UAE has been supportive of the practice. In the region, it was among the first to legalise homeopathy, introducing a licensing system for practitioners in 2003.
There are currently around 250 licensed homeopaths in the country, out of which over 120 homeopaths are in medical centres across the emirates.
“The homeopathy community in the UAE is so large, and this system is a common practice in all emirates. The availability of alternative medicines across many pharmacies is proof that it is widely accepted,” said Dr Shifa Muhammed of Good Health Medical Clinic in Al Nahda, Sharjah.
Dr Najeeb Ahammed PK, homeopathic consultant at Jansons Medical Centre, said: “Over 24 companies reimburse the cost of homeopathic treatments in UAE. Some of the major insurance companies cover them, and there is a recent increase in the number of companies providing direct billing services.”
For insurance companies, providing coverage for homeopathy is about responding to a “demand”.
The system is widely accepted among Asians and Europeans, experts said.
Insurers offer alternative treatment as an ‘additional benefit’, within the limit of Dh4,000-Dh5,000. Some firms, like Allianz and Bupa, cover it based on consultations, with members being given around 10 to 20 visits.
Sanjay Babur ACII, managing director of Cosmos Insurance Brokers, said: “It must be noted, however, that insurers will cover homeopathy treatment only from DHA/MOH-approved doctors.”