A self-professed natural healer learned she was to be banned from advising people on their health while she was running seminars across the Pacific in Rarotonga and Indonesia.
Barbara and Michael O’Neill have written to the Cook Islands News, providing the response she penned to the Health Care Complaints Commission.
She was running seminars here for the Seventh Day Adventist Church, they say, which were also attended by members of the public. In her response to the Complaints Commission, penned in Indonesia after she flew out of Rarotonga, she agrees her health advice is not supported by “mainstream medicine” but rejects the claim it is not evidence-based. “I am writing this response from an overseas country that is classified as a developing country.”
O’Neill says she can treat cancer with baking soda, and advises parents against giving their children the MMR vaccine – a vaccine that is the cornerstone of the Pacific region’s battle against a measles outbreak.
“I am not ‘mainstream’, and have never claimed to be,” she wrote. “You have not produced one single instance of harm to any person ever from my advice. With regard to the vaccine issue ... it is now government policy to promote vaccination, and the mainstream press are 100 per cent on board with a propaganda campaign that would make Goebbels proud.”
Last night, Cook Islands Secretary of Health Dr Josephine Aumea Herman said she was concerned to learn O’Neill had been running health workshops in Rarotonga, and had referred the matter to her chief medical officer Dr Yin Yin May.
“We will follow up on this with her [O’Neill], so in the future she cannot practice healthcare here without the proper registration – which means an annual practising certificate in her country of origin, and other documentation. We must ensure the Cook Islands population remains safe.”
The Ministry of Health has extended its use of the MMR vaccine to six-month-old babies; the high uptake of childhood immunisation here has been hailed as the reason there is no measles here. Now, New Zealand is following Cook Islands’ lead, in a bid to combat its potentially fatal measles outbreak.
Michael O’Neill said on his wife’s visit to Cook Islands, she spoke of the “8 Laws of Health”, that were core to her beliefs. “She believes the body is designed to heal itself and will do so, given the right conditions.”
She ran seminars at the Sinai Hall last month. Shortly afterwards, the Complaints Commission provided her a copy of its draft findings against her.
The commission permanently barred from providing health services or lectures, concerned she had told terminally ill people their cancer was a fungus that could be cured with baking soda. She also gave dangerous pregnancy advice, the commission found.