(JollofNews) – Dressed from head to toe in sparkling white traditional three piece haftan, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh, waves a copy of the Holy Qur’an over his latest patient murmuring some Qur’anic verses.
The man is HIV/Aids positive, but after a few sessions of this treatment which include a rub down with some cream made with green herbs and banana leaves, a splash on the face with another potion and a drink of a murky looking liquid, the president claims he will be cured.
The man is among hundreds of HIV/Aids positive patients from the Gambia and neighbouring countries who are taking part in the presidential traditional herbal treatment programme.
In 2007, President Jammeh told local journalists and foreign dignitaries that he has found cure for one of the world’s killer diseases such as HIV/Aids, hypertension, asthma and tuberculosis. He also claimed to have find a cure for barrenness and can make infertile women have children within months.
He claimed that his healing powers were given to him in a dream by his ancestors. While undergoing the treatment, the president’s patients have to renounce alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, theft and sex.
The patients are also advised to stop taking medications made in the West such as anti-retroviral medication for the herbal treatment to take full effect.
Mr Jammeh rejected accusations by his critics that he isusing the treatment programme to enrich himself.
“My HIV/Aids treatment initiative started out of concern for human sufferings given the trauma and stigma attached to a person suffering from the disease,” he said.
“I am duty bound to alleviate the problems faced by the people affected by the disease as I have prayed to the Almighty Allah to show me the medication to do so. When I see people suffering from HIV/Aids, I feel bad about it. So this is a very difficult medication.”
President Jammeh added that he is committed to treating anybody with the disease irrespective of their race and nationality.
“What is clear is that I am doing this for humanity and as a Muslim and in fact any human being who believes in God, you are not supposed to be a racist or discriminatory,” he said.
“So whether you are a Gambian or wherever you come from, or you are from space, if you come here for treatment, we will give you the same level of care that we give to Gambians because at the end of the day we are all human beings.
“We are not doing it for money, for fame, popularity but for the sake of humanity as dictated by Allah for us to work for humanity. All we need is for you to comply with our rules – that is you stay and we give you the medication until when we test and see that your viral load is no longer detectable by the machine. What my treatment does is to remove the virus.”
International medical organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UN System in the Gambia have expressed concern and caution over the use of scientifically unproven traditional medicines by the president as a cure for HIV/Aids. They say the President’s claims will bring false hope to the country’s HIV/Aids patients.
However, President Jammeh still remains defiant insisting that his treatment which is offered to patients free of charge is effective and cures people from the deadly disease.
Clutching his sword and praying beads tightly in his left hand and the Qur’an in his right hand, the president said despite claims by HIV specialists that his patients would die if they stop taking antiretroviral drugs, his treatment programme has registered huge success and he was able to cure his patients within weeks including those who stopped taking antiretroviral drugs.
“HIV2 patients can be treated in two to three weeks while HIV1 patients are treated within one month without using western medicine,” Mr Jammeh told a large gathering of Gambians in his home village, Kanilai.
“Before HIV 1 and HIV 2, we take the same length of time for treatment. But now if somebody has HIV 2, I laugh when I look at the diagnoses because it takes only less than one week to really get rid of the virus,” he said.
“So the weakest virus as far as I am concerned is HIV 2 and I will be more concerned with somebody who has cerebral malaria than somebody who has HIV 2. When we started treatment we treated people with CD4 counts of four.”
Mr Jammeh added: “It takes only 10 minutes to cure asthma and patients will not come back for it after years. We will continue to serve humanity to the best of our ability. I can assure that every time we meet to celebrate there will be fewer diseases.
“By the grace of the Almighty Allah, we will have very effective medicine for all types of cancer. We have tried some and we registered successes but before I make a pronouncement I want to make sure that all types of cancer can be treated because the one that is little bit sensitive and is a problem is the cervical cancer, but by the grace of the Almighty Allah we will conquer all cancers before the next anniversary.”
Some of the patients who underwent the treatment have agreed with the president about the effectiveness of his treatment, which they said has cured them of the HIV/Aids virus and other diseases.
A woman who claimed to have been cured of her barrenness of many years, posed with pictures of a baby girl she claimed was conceived after she underwent the presidential treatment.
“I have been married for 22 years without a child,” she said in a letter to the Gambian president which was published in the Daily Observer.
“I have wasted lot of money to local medicine men but with no positive result but got pregnant immediately I completed the presidential fertility treatment programme.”