Thursday, September 19, 2019

Jammeh’s ‘HIV/AIDS treatment was a lie’

Survivors call for the withdrawal of medical licences of two doctors
Yahya Jammeh prays while administering his alleged herbal HIV cure to a patient at the State House in Banjul. Photo | AP | 2007
A former chief executive officer of the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul this afternoon said the ousted dictator’s treatment of HIV/AIDS patients was based on a lie.
Jammeh, whose 22 years reign was marked by allegations of massive rights abuses, announced in 2007 that he could cure AIDS and forced patients to undergo a “treatment programme”.

The alternative treatment programme was a “hoax”, Dr. Mariatou Jallow, who was among doctors working with the former president, told the Truth Commission which is investigating human rights abuses under his rule.

Dr. Jallow also said the doctors who participated in the treatment knew Jammeh’s claim of a cure for HIV/AIDS was a lie.

The former iron-fist ruler claimed to have extraordinary powers.

He also claimed he could cure diabetes, infertility, and cancer – using herbal medicine.

A number of Gambian doctors were involved in the process of administering the herbal medicine, some of which were made of boiled banana leaves.

In June 2018, three people who had undergone Jammeh’s AIDS treatment programme sued him over allegations of detention and abuse.

They accused Jammeh of using them as guinea pigs to test his supposed cure, and being subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment, their lawyer Combeh Gaye is quoted as saying.

Revoke licences

Shortly after Dr. Jallow’s testimony, the three survivors of Jammeh’s AIDS programme (two men and a woman), called for the revocation of medical licences of Dr. Tamsir Mbowe and Dr. Malick Njie.

Complaints have been filed with the Gambia Medical and Dental Council.

Both Mbowe and Njie are ex-ministers of health under Jammeh and have worked with Jammeh at different points under the fake AIDS cure programme.

“It is important that Jammeh and his collaborators be brought to account,” said Paula Donovan, co-director of AIDS-Free World which support the survivors’ suit against Jammeh.

“We are engaged in these actions to highlight the silence and complicity of the international community.”

Oludayo Fagbemi, a legal officer with the Banjul-based Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa, said the two medical doctors were engaged in “professional misconduct” by lending credibility and prestige to Jammeh's “cure”.

“…they should be subject to severe penalties," Fagbemi said. "The Council has a responsibility to send a signal to the medical profession that such gross disregard for human rights will not be tolerated."

Under Jammeh’s fake HIV/AIDS cure, patients were ordered to stop all western medication including anti-retroviral drugs.

Under the threat of a West African military intervention, Jammeh was forced out of office in January 2017 after 22 years in power. He now lives in Equatorial Guinea.

Written by Modou S. Joof

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