For the Deaths of HIV/AIDS Patients
By Mustapha Jallow
Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) in its report earlier submitted to President Adama Barrow, have recommended the prosecution of former president Yahya Jammeh and Dr Tamsir Mbowe, for intentionally and knowingly causing the death of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV), during Jammeh’s self-proclaimed 2007 Presidential Alternative Treatment Programme (PATP).
The Truth Commission recommended that “Jammeh and Dr Mbowe should face murder charges and be prosecuted for intentionally causing the deaths of HIV/AIDS patients, who were conscripted in the sham PATP and deprived of life-saving treatment”.
It further recommends that Yahya Jammeh and Dr Tamsir Mbowe be prosecuted for negligence and causing the deaths of PLHIV who took part in the programme and were deprived from lifesaving treatment.
The commission recommends another prosecution for ex-president Jammeh and Dr Mbowe for the inhumane and degrading treatment meted out on PLHIVs who took part in the treatment programme.
“Yayha Jammeh should be prosecuted for admitting children into the PATP in violation of the provisions of the Children’s Act 2005 and the Convention on the Rights of a Child,” the TRRC recommends in its final report.
The Commission further recommends that the Medical and Dental Council should revoke Dr. Tamsir Mbowe’s practising licence indefinitely, for failing to honour the medical code of conduct and for the role he played in the fake Presidential Alternative Treatment Programme (PATP).
It continues to recommend a ban on Ansunama Jammeh from holding Government office, saying he should not hold any position in the Government at all levels and in any capacity.
Meanwhile, the Truth Commission recommends for a review of the legal framework and policies on HIV to identify and address gaps in relation to the protection of the rights of PLHIVs. It also recommends the establishment of mechanisms to ensure access to comprehensive treatment, care and health services for PLHIVs.
“The regulation of herbal medicinal products should ensure that it meets standard quality, safety and efficiency, and that its production is governed by the provisions and requirements of the Medicines and Related Products Act 2014,” the Truth Commission recommended.
It went on to recommend that the existing regulations should be strengthened on the use of herbal medical products through the effective enforcement of the Medicines and Related Products Act 2014, saying Government should ensure access to treatment, care and health services for PLHIVs.
“All healthcare workers in The Gambia should be trained on HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination and on the protection of the right to privacy and confidentiality of people living with HIV/AIDS, human rights and medical ethics in the context of HIV. In the same vein, the Government should increase access to HIV testing services countrywide,” the Truth Commission said in its recommendations.
It added: “The Ethics for Health care providers should be strengthened. There should be penalties, criminal or otherwise, for healthcare workers that disclose the status of people living with HIV/ AIDS to anyone, including family members, without obtaining the prior informed consent of the PLHIVs. Healthcare professionals who promote, support or spread misinformation regarding HIV and other diseases to members of the public, should face disciplinary actions and loss of their practicing license where appropriate.”
Meanwhile, the Truth Commission recommended that media practitioners are to uphold the standard for reporting on persons living with HIV/ AIDS, saying there should be penalties, criminal or otherwise, for journalists who disclose the HIV status of a person living with HIV/AIDS to the public, without the prior informed consent of the people living with HIV/AIDS.
According to the Commission, there should be mandatory training on HIV-sensitive media reporting to address stigma and discrimination against PLHIV due to negative or offensive media coverage of HIV issues.
“The government should support People living with HIV/AIDS. The government should recognize support groups of people living with HIV/AIDS as an integral part of the public health system and include budgetary support for people living with HIV/AIDS-led support groups within their healthcare budgets,” said the report of the TRRC.
Moreover, the report said the government should put in place a system of social safety nets to protect the right to education and welfare of people living with HIV/AIDS, adding this should include free education and other support for children orphaned by HIV, for primary and secondary school education.
“The Medical and Dental Health Association should strengthen its mechanisms and procedures on ways to discipline medical personnel who violate the rules and regulations governing the conduct of medical practitioners. The Medical and Dental Health Association should review its regulatory framework to identify inadequacies that enabled doctors and medical assistants to participate and endorse the bogus program,” recommended the truth commission.
In January 2007, former President Yahya Jammeh, made a public declaration that he had received a “mandate from God” to create a cure for HIV41/AIDS42 in the form of herbal treatment.
Jammeh further announced that he discovered this cure from seven herbs found in the Qur’an. This attracted attention and the whole world was astonished by the declaration because the scientific world had done many studies since discovering HIV/AIDS and could not come up with a cure and up to date, there is no cure for HIV/AIDS.
Following his declaration, dictator Jammeh took the bold step of establishing his so-called cure programme known as “The Presidential Alternative Treatment Programme (PATP).” By which avenue he (Jammeh) introduced a fake, fraudulent and bogus treatment, stating that the herbs he had mixed into a concoction could cure HIV/AIDS within three (3) days.
Many people, especially females have died during his self-proclaimed treatment programme. Now the truth commission wants him (Jammeh) and the doctors that assisted him to face trial for murder and other forms of inhuman treatment.