|Dr. Leo Zekeng of UNAIDS|
It may be better late than never for UNAIDS to resume its work but it important to acknowledge the unnecessary interruption of the efforts of the international community resulting in reversals to the gains made against the disease before the village doctor embarked on his HIV/AIDS 'cure'. The set back caused by the Jammeh treatment program can and will be reversed but at a higher cost of life and cash.
The other human casualties of the Jammeh/Mbowe HIV/AIDS quackery was the UNDP Resident Representative and Coordinator of the UN System of the country who was declared persona non-grata for questioning the scientific basis for Jammeh's claim.
Another human casualty is the professional carrier of Dr. Mbowe, a trained medical doctor who served as validator of the most absurd claims of the Gambian dictator relating to the disease.
However, all is not lost despite concerted effort of the herbal doctor's effort to lure patients from conventional treatment. According to the United Nations news agency (IRIN), Jammeh's herbal treatment actually had unanticipated positive side-effects of the antiretroviral. Instead of pulling patients toward herbal treatment, it raised the profile of antiretroviral therapy.
Twenty months into his declaration that he can cure HIV/AIDS in 2007, many patients switched from antiretroviral to herbal only to return to the proven therapy after many reversals and deaths that victims' families were and still are scared to report for fear of their own personal safety.
Needless to say, UNAIDS return to The Gambia is a positive development and a very welcomed news. We will, therefore, ignore the spins by all parties. We say WELCOME UNAIDS.