Magaya in U-turn over HIV claims
The wealthy prophet had told multitudes at his Waterfalls church in Harare on Sunday that he had found a cure for HIV/Aids and cancer, with his bold declaration alarming government and public health workers.
On Tuesday, government warned Magaya that he risks being arrested if he goes ahead and starts selling his controversial HIV/Aids herbal medicine, named Aguma, without regulatory approval.
And police on Wednesday night raided his church looking for the medicine, whose distribution had been scheduled to start tomorrow.
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights had also threatened to slap Magaya with a lawsuit within seven days, saying his HIV/Aids treatment claim was dangerous and leaves patients prone to infection.
After facing a barrage of criticism, Magaya acknowledged at a news conference yesterday that he rushed to announce his claim and conveyed his apology to the minister of Health and Child Care Obadiah Moyo and his deputy John Mangwiro.
“We have engaged the ministry. I carry an apology to them and the public. Having carried the research from outside the country, I went on to announce the results unprocedurally,” a deflated Magaya said. “I apologise once again.
“I took heed of what government and relevant boards have asked me to do to retract my earlier claim, which I am now doing. Together we are going to work towards running intensive clinical trials for Aguma,” he added.
Magaya had claimed last Sunday that he and his Indian counterparts had found a herbal remedy for HIV and Aids, incredibly claiming Aguma could destroy the HIV virus in just 14 days.
He further said he was working with the government which he claimed was taking his “cure” through some laboratory tests, a claim strenuously rejected by government.
An Aguma immune booster sachet, according to social media adverts, was going for $500, while the capsules were being sold for $1 000.
Magaya — who was earlier contemplating moving his family and church business out of Zimbabwe because he reportedly felt “truly threatened” after authorities descended on him in the wake of his claims — was forced to issue a skin-back retraction for the first time in his life after his bonehead claim stirred uproarious anger among Western medical experts who claimed he was giving false hope to the sick.
At the joint press conference yesterday, Moyo said Magaya did not follow due process when he unveiled his Aguma herb and without realising the impact of his message.
Moyo suggested Magaya seemed ignorant of the legal framework around the regulation of medicines in the country.
He said he had no doubt that he was now well acquainted with the regulations.
Moyo, however, said they could not outrightly stop alternative medicines, but called for procedure to be followed, including clinical trials.
“I want to reiterate that please carry on with your medicines, Magaya’s medicine has not yet been approved. It’s unfortunate that Magaya did not have all regulations in place,” the minister said.
“Zimbabwe appreciates new discoveries but we want them to go through scientifically proven processes and these processes are what we are following now. He has assured us that he will not dispense that medication.
The process will start with him giving us his evaluation papers of Aguma from India. Right now, there is no medicine from Magaya registered for use in Zimbabwe or elsewhere. We are grateful that he has come to us.”
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 12 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both such fine and such imprisonment. Daily News.