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Jammeh’s “alternative treatment” a hoax—former EFSTH CEO

Dr Mariatou Jallow
Dr Mariatou Jallow

Dr Mariatou Jallow, a former chief executive officer of the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital who was part of the alternative treatment programme of former president Yahya Jammeh said the exercise was a “hoax”.

In 2007, Jammeh started a treatment programme claiming he could cure HIV/AIDS, diabetes, infertility, and cancer, among other diseases. A number of Gambian doctors were involved in the process to help administer Jammeh’s herbal medicine.

Jammeh gave his patients a concoction of herbal medicine. These herbal medicines were not independently verified by a third party. Since his downfall, patients of his HIV treatment have since initiated a lawsuit against him.

But Dr Jallow told the Truth Commission investigating the human rights violations of the former ruler on Thursday that the treatment was a lie.

Jallow also said the doctors who participated in the treatment knew Jammeh’s claim to a treatment for HIV/AIDS was a lie.

Dr Jallow studied in Ghana and Canada and was appointed Gambia’s health minister in 2008. During his time as the CEO of country’s main referral hospital, Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, Gambia witnessed a student protest on April 10 and 11, 2000. Fourteen students were shot dead and dozens injured with gunshot wounds.

During those times, the injured victims were admitted at the EFSTH. However, the victims were not given adequate care and their medical records were seized from them.

Dr Jallow admitted that she took the medical records of the victims from them but the instructions came from the State House.

“I was ordered by State House not to give these wounded students their medical records… That was not normal… I accept that it was wrong,” said Dr Jallow.

“It was out of fear that I complied with orders from State House… If I did not agree anything could have happened to me.”

According to the April 10 and 11 victims, the confiscation of their medical papers has made it impossible for them to go for abroad treatment.

Three of the most critically wounded students were evacuated to Egypt for medical treatment. However, Government only paid 1 of the 3 months they stayed in Egypt.

Dr Jallow said that was because the state had no money. After the 3 victims also found their ways to Gambia, their medical records were again taken from them by Dr Jallow, reportedly on orders from State House.

“I have failed them. The nation has failed them for sending them for treatment and not paying for their bills… As I said earlier, we were living under abnormal circumstances,” admitted Dr Jallow.

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