By Yankuba Jallow
Dr Assan Jaye, the Chairman of The Gambia Immunology Society said former President Yahya Jammeh’s HIV Treatment Programme lacked scientific evidence.
“The President’s Treatment Programme was criminal in the sense that people who were not supposed to die, died,” he said.
He said when former President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh initially announced that he found a cure for HIV & AIDS, he was with the view that it was a political statement. He explained that he was worried when the former President began his treatment programme.
“When Jammeh said he can cure HIV in three days, to the scientific community, it was false,” the witness said.
He said there was a risk attached to Jammeh’s treatment programme because he required all the patients to give up the conventional treatment they were undergoing.
He said for one to claim that he has a cure for HIV & AIDS shows that the person does not know what the disease is. He explained that HIV & AIDS integrates into the DNA of the person such that if one wants to eliminate the virus, you would have to kill the person. Dr Jaye said the only cure for HIV & AIDS that occurred was by accident in Germany, but such cure is not practical.
He described Jammeh’s treatment programme as rubbish and unsound adding it was unscientific. He said the proclamation by the President was surprising and shocking because of the degree of the irresponsibility in the manner the ex-President was doing it.
He said there are other traditionalists in the world who claimed they can cure HIV & AIDS, but none of them has been proven right.
He said patients who were undergoing the conventional treatment programme he was running went to join the President’s Treatment Programme. He said at the time the patients left, they were enjoying a very high CD4 counts and significant reduction of the viral load. He said the patients who joined Jammeh’s treatment programme were issued with discharged form.
The witness said there were some who returned to their cohort early to join the MRC treatment. He added that there were no major problems because they did not stay long and their treatment was restarted.
“These were people who found out that the treatment programme was bogus so they came back to MRC early,” he said.
He said the people who died as a result of the President’s Treatment Programme shouldn’t have died if they had continued with the conventional treatment of the virus. He said the conventional method gives patients chance to live quality life.
“Some [of the returnees from the President’s treatment programme] died no matter how much we tried, but some were successful,” the witness said.
The reason why those people died was a result of the duration of time they spent at the President’s Treatment Programme, he added.
He said they closed the HIV clinic at the Medical Research Council (MRC) in an attempt to avoid political clash with the President. He said some of their patients were transferred to Hands on Care and others to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital.