Did you know that a Swedish county council that is responsible for healthcare in the region also indirectly finances anti-vaccine talks and efforts by the anti-dentist quack organization? In a stunning irony, the very government that is supposed to support healthcare and protect people are giving money to a patient advocacy group that fearmonger about dental implants. Sweden has experienced these issues before because they also fund a patient advocacy group that promotes alleged EMF hypersensitivity and even gotten close to redirect mobile antennas that would have made entire areas loose cell service.
Olle Palm at the Swedish Public Television (SVT) recently wrote a news item that exposed how an anti-dentist quack organization called Tandvårdsskadeförbundet used government money to finance an anti-vaccine talk by Swedish anti-vaccine activist Ann-Charlotte Stewart. Stewart previously appeared in a “false balance”-themed debate on Swedish public television that has been covered in detail previously on this website. They merely regurgitated the nonsense that has been refuted before, such as the toxin gambit, the vaccines did not save us gambit, and portraying measles as a harmless childhood disease.
What is the Skåne Regional Council?
Sweden is divided into 20 county councils which serve as regional governments responsible for things like healthcare, public transportation and general development. Some of these have grown in prominence and responsibilities and have therefore been renamed regional councils instead. The Skåne Regional Council serve the Skåne County, which is a county at the far south of Sweden.
What is the Tandvårdsskadeförbundet?
Tandvårdsskadeförbundet (TF, loosely translates to “Dental Harm Association”) is a Swedish patient advocacy / disability rights organization that aims to represent people who have been harmed by dental implants. They do not really care that much about patients that have been harmed by bad dental procedures or bad dentists as such, because most of their efforts are spent on fearmongering about dental amalgam and titanium implants. It is generally considered to be one of the more quackery-based patient advocacy organizations in Sweden and on the same level as the patient advocacy group for alleged EMF hypersensitivity. The major achievement that they list is that they helped to get dental amalgam banned in 2009 in Sweden.
Why does Skåne Regional Council fund TF?
Every year, the Skåne Regional Council give out money to many different disability rights organizations and one of them is TF. They got a total of 163 000 SKR (~18 000 USD) in 2016 from the regional government. This money is partly spent on giving free talks to the public where they promote their unscientific beliefs. One such recent talk focused on promoting anti-vaccine nonsense.
What were the details of the anti-vaccine talk?
The talk was given by known Swedish anti-vaccine activist Ann-Charlotte Stewart and held in October of 2016. Stewart is a former researcher and has fallen for many other forms of pseudoscience, such as astrology and conspiracy theories about 9/11.
The connection between the quackery-leaning TF and vaccines is, of course, the thimerosal gambit. Thimerosal use to be a preservative in some vaccines. It was removed in the U. S. from almost all vaccines in the early 2000s and in the early 1990s in Sweden due to the precautionary principle despite the fact that it had been used safely in vaccines for around 70 years and subsequent studies showed no link to autism or other neuropsychological problems in children. Stewart falsely claimed that vaccines were linked to learning difficulties and that vaccines are nothing but virus and bacteria being injected into the bloodstream. In reality, of course, vaccines are not given intravenously but typically intramuscular.
The talk was attended by about 20 people and featured standard anti-vaccine claims that have been debunked thousands of times before.
What happens now?
Swedish Public Television reached out to the chairperson of the Board of Habilitation Ewa Pihl Krabbe and she said it is important that the information is correct, but that they cannot micromanage every single lecture. Financing for patient advocacy and disability rights organizations is reviewed every year and they have to option to reduce or remove funding for the next year.
Many disability rights and patient advocacy organizations are important and provide vital support for people with disabilities or other medical conditions. The money should not be wasted on quackery and instead should be spent on organizations that do not promote pseudoscientific nonsense.
A cached version of the news item can be found here.