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‘Lots of HIV patients died in Jammeh’s hand’

Aug 22, 2017, 10:32 AM | Article By: Rose Zahra Gomez

The first patients to undergo former President Yahya Jammeh’s HIV and AIDS treatment programme in 2007 have confessed that the treatment was “not effective” and “a lot of people died” in the process.

The patients made this confession to the technical committee on the proposed Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) which is on a nationwide consultative and sensitisation tour.

The committee, led by the Minister of Justice Abubacarr Tambedou, held a meeting in Serekunda West yesterday.

Lamin Ceesay, a HIV patient, said he was the first person go public about his status that he was HIV positive and he started to receive treatment with the help of one NGO for years.

“But in 2007 when the former president said that he could cure AIDS, I was among those selected to undergo the treatment,” he said.  Lamin and his wife were both HIV positive and were enrolled in Jammeh’s treatment programme.

“The treatment was fake; my wife died in the process of the treatment because the medicine they were giving us was not for the human system.  The medicines even caused us to be infected with other diseases,” he said.

Lamin urged the TRRC, when functional, to look into Jammeh’s HIV and AIDS treatment as he was assisted by qualified medical practitioners who ought to know that “the president’s medicine was fake”. 

Jainaba Samateh, another HIV patient, said she has been living with HIV and AIDS for 23 years now and she is not ashamed of her status because she lives “a dignified life like any other Gambian”.

She said that in January 2007, she was enlisted in Jammeh’s HIV treatment.  When the treatment started, Jammeh promised not to take them public but as it progresses, they were eventually shown on the national television, GRTS, and that brought a lot of stigma to their families. 

“The Gambian people should know that the treatment was not effective and has cost so many lives,” she asserted.

Meanwhile at the Serekunda West meeting, the representative of young people said it was imperative that the composition of the commission includes a youth representative.

Andrew Gibba of Kanifing Municipal Youth Parliament said the government should look at security personnel that Jammeh was using to do all his dirty works for “they should be brought forward to testify”.

Abubacarr Tambedou, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, said the concerns raised were noted and would be considered.

He, however, clarified that the commission is not to prosecute anybody but “to file a report to be in the history book of The Gambia for the future generation to know and avoid dictatorship”.