Dr. Mbowe, who appeared yesterday at the country’s Truth Commission, has become the first TRRC witness to defend Jammeh’s HIV/AIDS treatment programme, despite several witnesses describing the medical treatment as “bogus and false”.
He told the TRRC that from 2004 to 2007 he was the director of Health Services and at some point he became the country’s minister of Health. He added that in January 2007, former President Yahya Jammeh announced that he could cure HIV/AIDS.
He said Yahya Jammeh told him that he had herbs that had the potential to eliminate HIV/AIDS virus. At this point, lead counsel, Essa M. Faal intervened and reminded the witness that it’s important that “we get the language right.”
TRRC Lead Counsel Faal added that the public record revealed that former President Yahya Jammeh said he had a cure for HIV/AIDS. “In fact, he Jammeh said: “Mine is not an argument, but mine is proven and it’s a declaration that I can cure AIDS and I will.”
Dr. Mbowe still insisted that what Yahya Jammeh told him was that he had the medicinal herbs that had the potential to cure or eliminate HIV/AIDS.
Mr. Mbowe maintained that Yahya Jammeh eliminated the HIV/AIDS virus and he also cured the HIV/AIDS victims.
On reports claiming that it was a breakthrough, Mbowe said it could be a mistake from Jammeh, as many people also claimed to have been cured of HIV/AIDS.
“I can recall that Jammeh said he can cure HIV/AIDS within three to 10 days. A message was sent across and that whoever is interested could come and attend the treatment programme.”
“I don’t know much about the first batch because I was not part of the people that selected the first batch. However, as we speak, conventional medicine has condemned all HIV/AIDS patients to death,” he said, claiming that in 2007 “many patients died as a result of the virus.”
According to him, conventional medicine has long condemned HIV/AIDS patients to death, thus there is no conventional medicine that can cure HIV/AIDS. He added that there are no medicines that can cure HIV/AIDS from the human system.
“Let me remind you that we don’t only have conventional medicines, but we also have traditional medicines as well. In fact, in 2007, very few patients declared that they had HIV/AIDS virus,” Mbowe said.
Mr. Faal told the witness that whether he agreed with the advancement in science and medicines, HIV/AIDS was no longer a death sentence. However, Dr Mbowe insisted that HIV/AIDS was still a death sentence in 2007.
Asked whether the virus is still a death sentence, he replied that he would not say sure because “we have different types of medicines in the market now both from the traditional sector to the conventional sector.”
“During my time as the director general of the Treatment Programme (HIV/AIDS), my main role in the treatment programme was to help Jammeh by monitoring the patients.”
Asked what he normally did in discharge of his function, he said, he was taking complaints from patients, monitoring whether they had any symptoms or abnormalities and then reported it to the president and advised him about whether the patients should be referred or not; either Banjul or Kanilai depending on the locations of the patients.
On how the virus was eliminated or cured by Yahya Jammeh during the first batch of patients, he said, medications were given to the patients.
“However, up to now, I can’t tell you what kind of medications were given to the patients by the president. Jammeh told me initially that he was using up to seven different medications. He, however, later told me that he was using different types of medications that included infertility and other treatments. But Jammeh never specifically told me the type of medications he was using.”
“I can remember he once told me that some of the medications are from The Gambia and others are from Latin America.”