Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Yahya Jammeh: Quite Literally the World's Worst President

Gambia's President, Yahya Jammeh, whose personal plane, the Ilyushin 62M C5-GNM, is on the UN asset freeze list, is..well. You'd be surprised, but every now and then in this game I see something that shocks even me. Via Ben Goldacre's Badscience, his pet newspaper, the Daily Observer, would like us all to know he's discovered a cure for HIV/AIDS, and asthma too. Link:
Jammeh starts curing HIV/AIDS patients today
Written by Lamin M Dibba
Thursday, 18 January 2007
As the world’s scientists and medical doctors continue to scout for an HIV/AIDS cure, which they have not been able to find for the past 20 years, The Gambian leader President Yahya Jammeh yesterday disclosed that he has the cure for the HIV/Aids pandemic as well as asthma.

Today at State House, the Gambian leader will start the treatment of HIV/Aids patients. His treatment of asthma patients will start on Saturday. Below, we reproduce the full text of the Gambian leader’s statement on the cure of the two diseases, delivered at State House at a ceremony attended by the Vice-President, Secretaries of States and many dignitaries.

“I call you to this meeting and maybe you will wonder why I called you including the two Ambassadors from Cuba and Taiwan. I called the two Ambassadors and of course Rose Clair Charles because you have a direct link with the health delivery system of this country. You know that Cuba is a key partner in our health sector and Taiwan is the force behind the Medical Team in The Gambia. This is a follow up to what I said on GRTS that I will now fully participate in the treatment of certain critical cases.

Since 1994, there are many Gambians who know what I can do. A lot of people have been treated in silence or under conditions of strict confidentiality .One would wonder why I start giving medicine to the public and all of a sudden stop. I have been having a lot of queries about that even after we went to the RVTH on Saturday. People were saying, “Well, the President. This is what he does. He will introduce very effective medicines and all of a sudden it will die down and we will not have access to him.”

I had to work on instructions. I don’t have the mandate to do it publicly in great numbers. I was only restricted to a small number so as to be able to prove to people that what I say is what I can do before I have the permission to do it publicly.

I am not speculating on my medicine. There are living witnesses to what my medicine can do. As far as I am concerned it takes only five minutes to cure asthma. I have other medicinal herbs that can take care of a number of illnesses. One of it was the one that was sold publicly at the July 22 Square and the Serrekunda Police Station. But of course, it has to stop at a point because I don’t have the mandate to go beyond that.
I now have the mandate to cure people publicly under strict conditions that I have to abide by otherwise I pay the price.

Now I have the mandate to publicly treat all the diseases on condition that the patient will be treated publicly. In fact, the first and the most important condition is that the person must be diagnosed by a medical practitioner or a medical institution. I am not authorised to treat anybody who just feels sick without a doctor’s confirmation. I can treat asthma and HIV/Aids and the cure is a day’s treatment. Within three days the person should be tested again and I can tell you that he/she will be negative. After the treatment, they have to go to the RVTH for a test again. As I said, I will not treat anybody who is not diagnosed as asthmatic or a HIV/Aids patient by a doctor. I don’t want to give my medicine to a wrong person.” So the reason why I called you is that I have to work with a team of doctors that I can trust. Doctors who will not sabotage my treatment. That does not in anyway mean that I will give them the medicine. These doctors would make sure that the patients abide by the instructions. If I give you the medicine with instructions on how to go about it and you go and do something contrary to that and you turn out to be positive ,don’t blame me. I will not give you names but it is true. It is not a treatment that I speculate on. I am not doing it for money or popularity. The mandate I have is that HIV/Aids cases can be treated on Thursdays. That is the good news and the bad news is that I cannot treat more than ten patients every Thursday. There is nothing I can do about it and if I go beyond that I will have to pay the price.

For asthma, I have to choose between Saturday and Friday. I am also not authorised to treat more than 100 people. I am also not authorised to treat anybody who does not produce a diagnostic paper of asthma or HIV/Aids. One will asked what the Cuban and Taiwanese ambassadors are doing here. The aim is to share the treatment with them because in Taiwan traditional medicine are used. The asthma medicine can be mass produced and packaged and exported to them. The one on HIV/Aids cannot be mass produced because I am restricted to ten patients only on every Thursday and I cannot go beyond that. I want to have a team of three doctors for asthma and HIV/Aids. I want you to select ten HIV/Aids patients: five males and five females for Thursday.

The conditions should be explained to them before they come because if any of them backs out, you cannot replace the one that has backed out. They can eat before coming but they should not eat anything that is oily. The medicine will be given to them in the morning as a preliminary and after, they can eat and in the evening they take it again. Once that is done, they cannot eat anything else the following morning. They may be hungry and thirsty but they have to bear it and that is why they need a doctor to monitor them. Once they have taken the medicine, they should not eat anything no matter what happens till the following day.

Now with regards to asthma treatment, that is the easiest part. When they are coming for treatment in the morning, they should not eat anything that has pepper or seafood when they take the medicine, for four hours they should not eat anything. After that they can eat anything except something that contains oil or seafood. We want to see how we can work with the RVTH to see where these people can be kept until the following morning.With regards to asthma treatment, there is no need to keep them. They can go for six months, without taking anything that is alcoholic. With regards to HIV/Aids, they should be kept at a place that has adequate toilets facilities because they can be going to toilet every five minutes.
Anybody who says he will not be treated publicly should stay away because I have to fulfill the conditions and I will not take risks for anybody.

I am not a witch doctor and in fact you cannot have a witch doctor. You are either a witch or a doctor."
The degree of moral corruption here makes me actually, physically want to vomit. Here we have the ruler of a sovereign state who is actively promoting God-knows-what quack remedy to his subjects, with the perfectly obvious consequence that many more of them will get HIV and many fewer of them will get effective treatment. The personal aggrandisement involved just adds a pornographically horrible edge to the whole thing.

How many of his subjects can hope for "adequate toilet facilities", where the word adequate implies ones that don't put cholera germs in the drinking water, I wonder? I'd love to know what the Cuban and Taiwanese ambassadors' excuses are, too. The Cubans have a good reputation for medicine. I suspect that the Taiwanese ambassador's motive was probably to cling to another risible flag pinned to the map.

What is the morally sane response to this? You could wish that he gets the virus himself, it would have a Shakespearian kind of vicious justice, but no doubt he would be off to some Swiss clinic to be topped-up to the teats with antiretroviral agents like a shot. Still, being president for life has a terrible pension plan..

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