From the pockets of his billowing white robe, Gambia’s president pulls out a plastic container, closes his eyes in prayer and rubs a green herbal paste onto the rib cage of the patient — a concoction he claims is a cure for AIDS.
He then orders the thin man to swallow a bitter yellow drink, followed by two bananas.
“Whatever you do, there are bound to be skeptics, but I can tell you my method is foolproof,” President Yahya Jammeh told an Associated Press reporter, surrounded by bodyguards in his presidential compound. “Mine is not an argument, mine is a proof. It’s a declaration. I can cure AIDS and I will.”
In a continent suffering from the world’s worst AIDS epidemic, Jammeh’s claims of a miracle cure are alarming public health workers already struggling against faith-healers dispensing herbal remedies from inside thatched huts.
The biggest concern is that the Gambian leader requires patients to cease their anti-retroviral drugs, a move that risks weakening their immune systems and making them even more prone to infection, said Dr. Antonio Filipe Jr., head of the World Health Organization in neighboring Senegal.
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