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Gambian President Announces Cure for Aids February 2, 2007

Posted by publicpolitics in Health and Science Policy.

A claim by Gambian President Yahya Jammeh that he can cure Aids in three days has been lambasted by a leading South African HIV/Aids specialist.

“I’m astonished. The danger of a president standing up [to say this] is shocking,” Jerry Coovadia told the BBC.

Source: news.bbc.co.uk

According to this BBC story, the President of Gambia believes that a secret concoction of herbal medicine can cure AIDS in under a week. And the Gambian Minister of Health, Tasmir Mbow, concurs. The ingredients of this highly unlikely panacea, of course, cannot be revealed now (for some reason), but will be known to the “whole world later on.”

As an act of public irresponsibility, these statements by the Gambian leader are almost without parallel. In the first place, as Dr. Coovadia notes, the atmosphere of secrecy is not simply unscientific: it is anti-scientific. That Jammeh also claims to be able to cure asthma through similar secret methods is, in view of his more grandiose claim, a mere megalomanic addendum to a larger delusion.

There were an estimated 19,000 Gambian adults with HIV/AIDS in 2005, 11,000 of whom were women between the ages of 15-49, and 1,300 deaths attributed to HIV/AIDS, and the prevalence rate was some 2.5% of the population. All of these numbers are probably severe underestimates. The President’s outrageous claims not only play to the gullible ill, but are likely to increase the transmission rate by promulgating the idea that unprotected sex is in fact, safe sex. After all, the only penalty is a three day cure.

The World Health Organization did not wish to comment on the BBC story yet, presumably because they fear active political interference in AIDS/HIV programs now operating in Gambia. A fight between the WHO and other organizations and the Gambian leadership would do nothing to assist the cause of HIV prevention and treatment in Gambia. But WHO and other concerned organizations will have to break this diplomatic but ultimately ineffective silence, sooner or later.

Tags: Standing | shocking | patients | leading | lambasted | days | CURE | condemned | astonished | Yahya | president | natal | JERRY | Jammeh | HIV | Health | Gambian | Coovadia | AIDS | African | Africa



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