New CTO Appointment
Economics of Going Green
State of Caribbean Media
Passport to Paradise
Death Sentence in 2 Years
Priest Thinks Twice
Charges & CounterCharges
Communication in Tourism
Moves to Oust Savarin
WIBC Settles with Gregory
UWP Leadership Question
Threat to State College?
Why Marpin Was Rejected
Sanford Now In Barbados
Hotels Threaten Shutdown
Urban Baron to Cross Floor
Lestrade & Stabilisation
Urban Baron Did Not Cross
PM Charles Tightens Grip
Search for New President
Tension at N.D.C.
New Independent Party?
AT & T in Dominica
Curtis Matthiew - DFP?
Sonia Williams - Indep...
SARS in Toronto, Canada
Bobby - Independent?
Casino Gambling Begins
Formal Opening of DSC
End of Douglas Dynasty?
Wage Bill Cut
DLP Want Theodore Fired
DFP Virtually Dead
PM's Fiscal Adjustment
Dr Etienne to PAHO
Relations with China?
Sam Raphael Resigns
Tour de Dominica Politics
PJ on Independence
Politics 25 Years Later
Cure For Aids Mooted
DSS Stymied by IMF
New Development at CTO
The Silent Killer
Grenada & Hurricane Ivan
Regional Tourism Security
Making Millions on Haitians
UWP Falling Apart
© Johnson JohnRose
Cure For Aids Mooted
February, 2004 - Dominica's lush natural tropical forests provide plenty of appeal for the scenic lover. There are about fifty fumaroles and hot springs, freshwater lakes, a boiling lake, and a overabundance of colourful flora and fauna, including 172 species of birds, over 50 species of butterflies, along with herons, frogs, iguanas, among others.
And, if one of the sons of the "Nature Island" soil were to be believed, these forests also carry another major secret which has the potential to rock the medical fraternity.
The man, an inmate at the Dominica State Prison for a non-violent crime, and who friends and associates have refused to identify, says he has discovered a much sort-after remedy for HIV/AIDS, which has eluded scientists around the world since the first case was reported in the United States in 1981.
Health officials here are taking him seriously, and, with an estimated 40 million people living with AIDS globally, and over three million having died from the pandemic in 2003 alone, the global health institution, the World Health Organization (WHO) appears to be willing to find out if there is any merit to the Dominican's claim.
"Someone said that they have identified certain herbs that can provide the cure for AIDS and they have been using it on people with AIDS and that it has had positive effects," Herbert Sabroache, the country's health minister said. "We have looked at some of the persons who have said that they have taken the potion and it has made a difference."
Sabroache, who was reluctant to discuss the subject, is among those who will not give details of the herbal formula or disclose the name of the inmate. Another such person is Peter Azille, a distant relative and representative of the inmate.
It was Azille who contacted Sabroache seeking help in sourcing funding to verify the clinical effects of the potion.
Azille said that the individual contacted him some three years ago seeking his (Azille's) assistance in marketing the potion.
However, Azille told The Sun that about three years ago, the individual, who he said is a distant relative, approached him about three years ago, seeking assistance in marketing the potion.
"He told me he got it in a dream and he went on a crusade finding people with AIDS and treating them," Azille said.
He said that the individual took him to a number of people whom he had treated with the potion and that there were sign "it has worked wonders for them" and that there were merits to his cousin's claims about the effect of the plant on HIV/AIDs.
"The people whom they gave it too were basically on their dying beds. They had no appetite; they had lost a considerable amount of weight; some had sores that could not be healed… I concluded that this thing was having some effect on aids patients," he revealed.
Convinced of the potential of this herb, Azille then got Sabroache interested by taking him to meet the individual, who was not incarcerated at the time, and to speak with some of the people who were reportedly helped by the herb.
Based on his observations, the health minister established an "investigating committee" consisting of a number doctors and other health professionals, and an attorney. This committee met several times to look at the evidence, then prepared a funding proposal which the minister of health took to PAHO. The hemispheric health body in turn forwarded the document to the World Health Organization (WHO), which communicated its interest to the local officials.
"What we determined from the pre-clinical (experiments) was that it was improving the quality of life of (people affected by HIV/AIDS)," Azzile said. "We asked for funding to verify the clinical effects, whether it was a healing thing, whether it improved the immune system."
Late last year, WHO hosted a conference in South Africa on traditional medicine, research and development, intellectual property rights and biodiversity. Although it was an African conference, Dominica was invited to present a paper on the reported miracle cure.
Azille made the presentation and WHO confirmed its interest and offered assistance on revising the protocol for resubmission.
"There is the possibility that we may get the funding to proceed. The fact that they have invited us to South Africa and showed us how to follow up there is that possibility," Sabroache reacted.
Already, a number of volunteers have come forward to participate in the experimental stage whenever that is ready, Azille revealed.
He said the initial plan was to have two groups of 12 people, with one group being given the potion while the other group would be given traditional antiretroviral drugs, and both groups would be monitored over several months.
However, he said, based on the results of the pre-clinical tests that had already been done, WHO decided that the second group was no longer necessary, and that 20 people affected by HIV/AIDS would be given the herbal medicine and placed under observation.
"The experiment will be systematically conducted. Every sample will be tested to establish the difference between (those with) HIV and (those with) AIDS. This will be done in a scientific way to ensure full credibility," Azille said.
He said that a review panel, comprising three medical professionals, guided by a process which will be approved by WHO, will verify that the experiments were conducted under WHO rules, as well as the results.
Also, a laboratory experiment will be conducted on the plant to determine if it contains any toxins.
All that is left to be done, Azille told the Sun, is to resubmit the proposal to the WHO and to wait for the funding.
"The clinical trial will begin as soon as we have the funding," he guaranteed.
In the meantime, the man who believes he has the remedy for one of the world's most complicated medical challenges, is jealously guarding his formula to ensure that no one but him gets credit and reaps financial rewards for his discovery, in the event it proves successful.
He intends to patent the formula, Azille said, and then turn the plants in Dominica's forests into money trees.