Thandeka Moyo & Auxilia Katongomara, Health Reporters
THE World Health Organisation (WHO), which is responsible for prequalifying medicines before use, has said the only legalised and tested remedy available for HIV clients is antiretroviral therapy.
This follows claims by Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries leader Prophet Walter Magaya that he has found the cure for HIV which has claimed millions of lives the world over. Scientists have spent the last three decades trying to find a cure for the pandemic which affects about 1,3 million Zimbabweans and so far only ART has been proven to suppress the amount of virus in the body.
In a statement in response to questions from The Chronicle yesterday, WHO said no one has approached the international body about any treatment to cure HIV.
“There are standard procedures and guidelines for WHO prequalification of medicines which are available to the public. A lot of research is going on in this area but none has demonstrated a cure for HIV among humans,” read the statement. “Therefore, there is no cure for HIV, although antiretroviral treatment can control the virus, meaning that people with HIV can live long and healthy lives. Once someone stops taking the treatment, the virus re-emerges.
Therefore, no one should stop taking their medicines for HIV treatment.”
United Nations Zimbabwe communications specialist Mr Sirak Gebrehiwot added that there is no known and proven cure for HIV to date. “Zimbabwe has very well-established procedures for clinical trials.
Clinical trials are the process by which any new medical approaches including drugs are rigorously evaluated to determine whether they are safe and effective in the prevention and/or treatment of any ailments,” he said. “The United Nations in Zimbabwe wishes to remind and encourage any researchers involved in developing possible new treatments for any ailments, including HIV and Aids to subject these to the Ministry of Health and Child Care national clinical trial processes and procedures,” added Mr Gebrehiwot.
An HIV and Aids activist Mr Dumisani Nkomo urged authorities to subject Magaya’s claims to the usual tests.
“The Ministry of Health and Child Care and the National Aids Council should test his herbs for efficacy. He should be given a chance and until authorities research on his product, they should not dismiss him,” said Mr Nkomo.
In a statement the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association said Mr Magaya’s claim will have far reaching repercussions if people pin their hope on his statements.
“We wish to advise relevant authorities that Press statements alone are not enough to restore sanity on this subject. We say so because such Press statements may not reach all the people.
Mr Magaya should be asked to publicly reverse and retract his utterances in the manner that he first announced the subject,” said ZHDA spokesperson Dr Mxolisi Ngwenya. “Until such a time that the robust and rigorous research is done, with enough medical clearance and verification through animal studies, Mr Magaya’s new drug should be quarantined and isolated from humans. Life is too precious.
We encourage all clients to adhere to all their medication as per doctor’s prescription,” he said.
The only human who was cured of HIV is Mr Timothy Ray Brown who underwent a bone marrow stem cell transplant in 2007. Mr Brown’s procedure almost cost him his life twice and scientists the world over are closely monitoring a rare genetic mutation in the person who donated bone marrow to Mr Brown which may have had a central role in his cure to formulate a cure for HIV.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe weighed in saying Zimbabwe has made great strides towards reducing new HIV infections, reducing HIV prevalence, prevention of mother to child transmissions and promoting safe and responsible health seeking behaviour and the medical claims (on HIV cure) have a potential to reverse the hard earned gains aimed at the eventual eradication of the disease.
“Given this background PSZ would like to caution opinion leaders to desist from misleading the public with unsubstantiated claims. We call for responsible leadership and following of due processes necessary for any innovation within the medical fraternity,” said the PSZ in a statement. — @thamamoe @AuxiliaK