Gambian President Yahya Jammeh (right) and Health Minister Dr. Tamsir Mbowe rub Jammeh's alternative medicine treatment for HIV/AIDS sufferers on Lamine Ceesay, 40, at the president's statehouse ground in the capital, Banjul, on Thursday, Feb 15. 2007. Jammeh said last month he had begun treating 10 patients with secret herbal ingredients that will cure them of HIV/AIDS. His health minister backs his claims, saying that in trials so far patients had gained weight and physically improved.

Many people died taking Jammeh’s HIV concoction, says former patient

Gambia’s disspirited dictator, Yahya Jammeh, who is now farming in Equatorial Guinea in 2006 claims he has found a cure for HIV/AIDS using bananas, peanuts and a mixture of herbs. But the question that remains is this: did it really work?

Lamin Ceesay, one of the first Gambians to publicize their HIV status said the so-called presidential treatment failed and many of who took part in the unscientific program died, shortly after.

HIV patients that took part in Jammeh’s treatment program had their antiretroviral drugs were taken away and Jammeh’s herbal concoction left patients like Lamin with a running stomach for months.

Patience gained weight because they had good food that they cannot, for the most part, afford – an unlimited supply of roasted meat, fruit and vegetables.

“The treatment wasn’t good. The only thing that made it better was the food because we ate roasted meat every time, vegetables and fruits were all in abundance,” said Lamin.

“Naturally, you would put on weight but that doesn’t mean the treatment was working. The majority of them died. Those herbs were all zero.”

Lamin believed if he had continued the treatment. He would have died. Lamin wife died after the treatment. She also volunteered to be part of the treatment.

Jammeh never sent a delegation to pay his last respect neither did he call Lamin to extend his condolences.

Jammeh had always announced that the viral load of the patients are undetectable. When Lamin was joining Jammeh’s so-called treatment, his viral load was nearly undetectable while receiving treatment at the UK funded Medical Research Council in Fajara.

“In fact, before I left MRC to join his treatment, my viral load was almost undetectable. It was during his treatment my condition worsened because I ended up having tuberculosis too as we were all grouped together and some already had TB. For seven months I was very sick until I decided to quit the treatment and return to MRC, where I am until now,” he told the Standard Newspaper.

Jammeh’s treatment was directed and supported by a medical doctor, Tamsir Mbowe, who runs a medical facility in Kanifing, a suburb outside Banjul. In Equatorial Guinea’s virgin forests, Jammeh is sure to find a lot of herbs but will he continue his claim of curing HIV?

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