By Momodou Jarju
Protected witness before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) has on Wednesday revealed that Dr. Tamsir Mbowe gave them assurance that former President Yahya Jammeh’s Alternative Treatment Program (ATP) can cure the HIV & AIDS convinced him to enroll for treatment.
Dr Mbowe is a trained doctor who worked with ex-president Jammeh to administer his so-called HIV cure to enroll patients.
The witness said one day, he met Dr Mbowe in Banjul, at that time he did not know him, and talked to him about his HIV conditions because he needed help.
He said Dr. Mbowe assured him that people were enrolled and cured from the alternative treatment program by Jammeh.
“I asked him is it true people are cured there? He said ‘yes we have released some people’,” the witness said.
Asked by deputy lead counsel, Haddy-Dandeh Jabbie, whether Dr. Mbow’s assurance made him to join the treatment program, and the witness responded in the positive.
The witness, who has been a HIV patient for little above 8 years, said he had a second wife who got sick and he took her to Banjul for treatment.
The witness said his sick wife was tested and diagnosed of the HIV virus. He was then tested too and he was diagnosed of having the virus too.
Unfortunately, he said his wife died shortly after she was diagnosed of having the virus. He said he has been receiving treatment in Banjul where it was administered by one Tijan Baldeh.
The witness said when he was using conventional medicine, his health was good. He testified he later heard via radio that the then president claimed he can cure the virus.
“The information I got from both the radio and television was that Yahya Jammeh can cure HIV,” he said.
The witness said during those days, he saw the alternative treatment program of the then president being televised.
When he wanted to enroll at ATP, the witness said his doctor, Tijan Baldeh was reluctant to give him a recommendation paper for him to join the treatment program, but he said because it involved the president, Baldeh prepared the document for him. He said he noticed Baldeh’s reluctance on his countenance.
The witness said he forget the batch he was- probably in the third or fourth batch. He said he went thrice for enrolment before he was enrolled for treatment, plus their batch had many people.
He said president Jammeh told them that they cannot be using conventional medicine and receiving the alternative treatment program simultaneously.
He said Ansumana Jammeh was in charge of the patients, while the nurses working at the treatment program were under Dr Mbow.
The witness said they were staying at the Kanifing hospital which was guarded by the paramilitary to ensure no one leaves the place. He said they were sometimes transported to Banjul for them to take their medicine.
He said the first medicine they were given was referred to as “Chakiri.” The medicine is a powder-like mixed with some concoction. He said the mixture of the medicine was done by those who were assisting the president, including Ansumana Jammeh in their present and they were made to drink it.
The witness explained that they queue with a cup in their hands for Yahya Jammeh to serve them the concoctions.
The witness added that there were different types of concoctions that were prepared for them and they included Omo, Jinneh, Kubejaro, Ckakiri. He said the president was always present when the concoctions were administered on them.
Asked whether the medicine made them suffer bad conditions, the witness responded in the affirmative.
He said there were instances when some people wanted to leave the treatment program, but the then president told them that whoever intended to abandon the program would be stopped. And if the person leaves, the president would send soldiers to fetch for them.
He added that no one was in a position to leave the program voluntarily. However, he said people from all over the world joined the treatment program. The witness said he spent one year and five months on the ATP.
Asked whether he was cured from the treatment, the witness responded in the negative.
“No I have not been cured. Even right now where I am sitting, I am sick,” he said.
The witness disclosed that he had never seen anyone who was cured from the treatment program. He said the treatment did not change his health condition, but it in fact worsened after he left the treatment. He said he was almost paralyzed. His nephew took him to Banjul and scanned his body.
The witness said the doctors gave him a document and referred him to the massage center where he was taking treatment. Thereafter, he was diagnosed that he had problems on his bones.
The witness said the concoctions given to him during President Jammeh’s ATP did not cure him, but caused him serious problem. He said he is reusing the conventional medicine he was using before he joined the ATP.
He said when they were released, they were told they were cured. He said President Jammeh and Dr. Mbowe who convinced him to join the ATP, were all lying.
The witness said the treatment caused serious problem for him and that his children could not continue their schooling because he was admitted at the treatment center. He said he spent every month about D1, 250 on medication up to date.
The witness said they are now suffering from the actions of Yahya Jammeh and his team. He also said he is angry with Dr. Mbowe more than President Jammeh because he is a doctor. He said he asked Dr. Mbowe because he trusted him. He said visitors who visited the treatment center were paraded and televised, an act he regretted.