Human nature decrees that for every weakness, there is an individual, a profession, or one entity or another ready to exploit the situation.
An atheist might argue that sending a sick person on a pilgrimage to a shrine, Lourdes or Knock, say, in the hope of achieving a physical cure, is exploitative and cruel. Cardinal John Henry Newman, who will be canonised in Rome next Sunday, might have argued otherwise, and might have suggested that a pilgrimage need not have a physical outcome to be successful.
A “scam” autism treatment at clinics in Cork and Dublin promised an unprecedented physical outcome and has led to public warnings from Health Minister Simon Harris and the Health Products Regulatory Authority.
The “service” offered stem cell treatment for autism, which is incurable. One person considering the Autism Regenerative Centre procedure was told treatment would cost €14,000.
If it seems cruel that vulnerable people, especially parents already unnecessarily guilt-ridden, should be exposed to such charlatans, it seems amazing that they can practise in a society like this. Incurable diseases, and infertility issues, too, offer rich pickings for those happy to exploit people so worn that they allow unfounded hope to cloud their judgement.
The Department of Health is progressing the Patient Safety (Licensing) Bill, which is intended to ensure that providers of health services operate to core standards. It cannot be enacted soon enough.