The third batch of 38 HIV/Aids patients were on Tuesday screen at the Serrekunda Hospital to start President Yahya Jammeh's treatment at the Glass House in State House.
Addressing the patients shortly before the start of his herbal treatment, the Gambian leader told the patients that there is no discrimination as far as his treatment is concerned. He said during the course of his treatment, patients must not smoke, steal or have sex, saying even the couples in the treatment are not exempted from these conditions.
Dr Jammeh urged patients to be forthcoming on issues concerning their health, imploring on them not to be ashamed to replay the facts surrounding their conditions.
He informed them that they will not take any food from outside, other than what will be given to them by him. He also told them that they will not take any Western medicine, except for what will be administered to them by himself. He also urged the patients to refrain from eating coffee, attaya, as well as chewing kola-nut and chewing gum.
He told them that they will not be allowed to be tampered with by outsiders during the treatment. He therefore, cautioned them that whatever activity they do during the treatment, it will be discovered by him, as manifested in the previous treatments.
He stressed that these conditions will be applied to the latter, warning that if anyone is found wanting, the whole batch will be cautioned on the first and second violations. However, he maintained that the third violations of the condition will cost those involved with expulsion. “If you are not serious, we will kick you out and take in other patients. Remember that you have come for treatment, and the medication you hate is the most effective. If you comply with all these, we will be able to treat you,” he noted.
The President informed the patients that some of the patients in previous batch were cleared of HIV/Aids within the first-10 days, saying “there are different metabolic reactions to the treatment. It does not mean that those who did not recover quickly from the illness violated the rules. The longer the medicine stays in your body, the more effective it will become”.
President Jammeh also urged the patients to maintain peace amongst themselves and see each other as a family.
He said the HIV/Aids virus is easy to cure, saying what is more problematic is the opportunistic infections, like tuberculosis and diabetes. “What we are doing here is to get rid of the virus from your system. If someone has diabetes or TB, it is very difficult to get rid of the HIV virus. Where a person is suffering from TB and it is chronic, as you are fighting the HIV virus, the TB also fights the CD4 counts of that particular individual”.
The Gambian leader added that it has taken a long time before the third batch commence the treatment. He then elaborated: “We realise that these diseases were the things we over looked in the past and it created a lot of problems for the patients that were undergoing the treatment. Now, for anybody to come for the HIV/Aids treatment, we have to test him or her for all these diseases, so that we know how to start the treatment. The earlier you go for the HIV/Aids test and detected positive, and start the treatment, the easier it will be to get rid of the virus from your system.” President Jammeh reaffirmed that what kills is the opportunistic infections.
He said for foreigners who wish to be treated, they must get the consent of their governments, either through the embassies representing their governments or their foreign ministries. “If you don't have this, you cannot be treated. This does not mean that we are discriminating anybody but we must get confirmation first before anything.”
For his part, Dr Tamsir Mbowe, Secretary of State for Health and Social Welfare, said 107 patients were registered for the treatment but after series of laboratory and physical examinations, 38 were selected to start the treatment. “The others”, according to Dr Mbowe, will join the batch later. He then called on Gambians to go for voluntary counselling and testing. “This will help in the management of patients affected and infected with the virus,” he noted.