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Gambia expels UN rep over AIDS cure grills

Gambian President Yahya Jammeh:
«I can cure AIDS and I will.»

© Gambia govt / afrol News
afrol News, 23 February
- In a swift reaction to her comments casting doubts about President Yahya Jammeh's ability to cure HIV/AIDS, The Gambia government today ordered the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Dr Fadzai Gwaradzimba, to leave the country within 48 hours.

Ms Gwaradzimba is asked to leave the country on 24 February. Officials of both the Gambian government and UN reserved their comments on the expulsion.

Dr Gwaradzimba was bold enough to call spade a spade that there is no scientific proof that President Yahya Jammeh's herbal treatment cannot cure HIV/AIDS. She warned that Mr Jammeh's purported cure could only encourage risky behaviours thereby worsen Africa's fight against the pandemic.

"To date, no cure for AIDS has been announced internationally and, once a person has been infected with the AIDS virus, he or she remains infected for life," the UN official earlier said, asking people living with the virus to stick to anti-retroviral treatment, which prolongs their lives.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, Dr Nester Shivute, also disproves of President Jammeh's claims.

The UN official's expulsion came few days after two senior officials of the National Aids Secretariat (NAS) in the country resigned in protest against Mr Jammeh's embarrassing attitude, which is paralysing The Gambia's anti-AIDS campaign.

No reasons have been publicly stated concerning the resignation of Saihou Ceesay and Aisha Baldeh, Director and Administrator of NAS, respectively. Unlike the Health Minister, Dr Tamsir Mbowe, the two officials did not want to sing the praises for Mr Jammeh over his claims.

Since he made the announcement in January this year, the Gambian leader had been attracting the attention of the international community, with most health experts questioning his curing powers.

But Mr Jammeh still rides on his curing spree, arguing that he does not need to convince anybody. He claimed to have used the Holy Quran and seven leaves, three of which are not found in The Gambia, to cure his patients. Mr Jammeh claimed to cure AIDS on Thursdays and asthma on Saturdays.

Mr Jammeh is supported by Health Minister Mbowe, who registers the President's confined patients.

President Jammeh said he had made a "breakthrough" after nine of his treated patients were reported HIV-free. It was not clear whether the said patients had the virus in their system before the "treatment."

"Whatever you do there are bound to be sceptics, but I can tell you my method is foolproof," President Jammeh proudly said. "Mine is not an argument, mine is a proof. It is a declaration. I can cure AIDS and I will."

The Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa, is among the beneficiaries of the World Bank's Global Fund, earmarked for the fight against the global pandemic. It is however believed that Jammeh's claims is capable of causing the suspension of anti-AIDs funds to his country.

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