The government has warned Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) ministries founder Walter Magaya that he risks being arrested if he goes ahead and starts selling his controversial HIV/Aids herbal medicine without regulatory approval.
This comes after the popular preacher told multitudes at his Waterfalls church on Sunday that he had found a cure for HIV/Aids and cancer — adding that his controversial herbs, named Aguma, would go on sale this coming Saturday.
At the same time, authorities and medical experts have robustly pooh-poohed Magaya’s claim, saying this had the potential to destabilise the government’s fight against HIV/Aids.
Yesterday, Health and Child Care deputy minister John Mangwiro warned that the charismatic preacher risked facing the full wrath of the law if he goes ahead and sells Aguma this weekend.
“If he goes ahead and sells the drug … we will stick to the Constitution of the country and the law in terms of drugs and sales.
“The law will definitely take its course if he breaches it,” he said, adding that as Magaya’s herbal medicine was not registered, people should not buy it.
“I don’t think people are going to be foolish enough to buy the drug on Saturday. From our research, we gather that the medicine costs $1 000,” Mangwiro told the Daily News.
On its part, the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) said it was investigating Magaya’s herb, warning that any sales and advertisements of medicines needed to receive prior approval from authorities.
“We need to make sure whatever is going to be sold and distributed to the public is safe, effective and of good quality.
“We are still gathering all the facts on this issue to ensure that the public is provided with accurate information and that all rules and regulations with respect to medicines are satisfied,” MCAZ spokesperson Shingai Gwatidzo said.
According to the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe, Medicines and allied substances control Act Chapter 15.03 under the advertisement of medicines subsection (1) no persons shall publish, distribute or in any other manner whatsoever bring to the notice of the public or cause or permit to be published or distributed or to be brought to the notice of the public any false or misleading advertisement concerning a medicine.
Any person who contravenes subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding level twelve or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
On Sunday, Magaya told thousands of his congregants that his herb Aguma could cure both HIV/Aids and cancer — adding that the government was ready to support him.
“When I approached the government, their response made me feel that they were ready to support us.
“Government will carry out its own research and is summoning a local research board to bring in people who are HIV positive and take statistics on people taking Aguma.
“They will test it for any threats to health, its efficacy and side effects among many other things and have the final say,” he said at his Waterfalls church in Harare.
He added that the government was set to announce the first public results on Aguma after 14 days, saying further that the herb had undergone the appropriate registration as a supplement in Zimbabwe and that he had also approached the World Health Organisation.
“We wrote to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and they said they would work hand-in-hand with government rather than individual-to-individual,” Magaya said.
The claims set off a wave of criticism as health professionals and rights groups said his revelations had the potential of destabilising the anti-retroviral treatment (ART) programme, which currently has millions of patients on treatment.
The government is currently on an ambitious $103 million, five-year HIV-testing strategy — to raise the number of people who know their status, as the country bids to build on the progress which has been made in the last seven years, which saw new HIV infections falling by 50 percent.
The testing strategy is part of the government’s efforts to achieve the 90-90-90 target — which seeks to have 90 percent of all people with HIV know their status, 90 percent of diagnosed people being on treatment, and 90 percent of those on treatment having suppressed levels of the virus in their bodies by 2020.
Zimbabwe has an HIV prevalence rate of 13,7 percent according to 2016 national estimates.
The country has been making strides in its fight against HIV/Aids despite the current economic turmoil which health experts say has hit the operations of most of the country’s major hospitals, including the procurement of essential drugs for people living with the pandemic.