Walter Magaya, a self-proclaimed Zimbabwean prophet and faith healer has claimed that he has discovered a cure for HIV/AIDS. Magaya is the founder of Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries, widely popular in Zimbabwe. The prominent faith healer on Sunday announced that he has discovered a cure for HIV/AIDS and cancer related illnesses. He also said it took him two years to find the “cure”, known as Aguma, through a spiritual revelation, and research conducted in conjunction with his Indian partners.
The announcement has divided opinion in Zimbabwe, with critics accusing the Pastor of preying on the vulnerable, while others say his “cure” is simply a hoax, since it has not been scientifically tested.
The announcement by Prophet Magaya is not problematic in that a cure for HIV cannot and should not be found. It is problematic because due process was not followed. In the video in which the self-proclaimed pastor made the revelation, he said HIV/AIDS patients should continue taking their anti-retroviral treatment even if they start taking his medication. However, that does not exonerate him. Magaya’s claim is still problematic in that, considering his influence across the country, and region, his emphasis of the faith component as part of the healing process is enough to convince many people to abandon their medication.
Describing the product, Magaya said the “cure” is a mixture of two plants Aguma, which is found in Zimbabwe and another from Mozambique. He also claims to have received an offer of $56 million by an unnamed American company, to reveal to them the components which make up the product.
Magaya said he has not revealed the components of his product because he needed it to bechemically and scientifically proven and has invited the Zimbabwean government to do their own tests.
“Prophetically I have discovered the plant…the world may deny it but they will eventually agree,” he said.
The government of Zimbabwe; Doctors associations’ and pharmaceutical companies have dismissed his claims, with requests that he reverses his announcement. The Ministry of Health and Child care said there are processes and procedures that ought to be followed prior to announcements and disbursements to patients.
Minus the legality of this development, it is important to note that as of 2016 about 1.3 million people are HIV positive in Zimbabwe and 75% of those are on anti-retroviral therapy. Any medication which can treat patients within in two weeks as claimed would be welcome, but all within the parameters of the law. The issue is not that people think a cure cannot come out of Africa as some of Magaya’s supporters have claimed. The issue is that this is not the first time people have heard of cures and rumours of cure, especially from religious leaders are not new.
Magaya has thousands of followers not only in Zimbabwe but from across the continent. For any reason, if his medication is not up to standard, it’s a threat to public health. Publicly advertising a drug and then inviting authorities afterwards is flouting proper procedure. Even in the Bible, in the book of Romans there are instructions for religious leaders to obey the laws of the land (government). It was therefore prudent of Magaya to lead by example especially on this serious health matter.
Claims of this nature would certainly attract global interest as well, at the recently held International Conference on Aids and STIs in Amsterdam it was re-emphasized that a cure for HIV has not been found. The gains achieved by the country in fighting the epidemic should not be sacrificed by a lack of patience and failure to follow due procedure. Government should flex its muscle and ensure that this claim is validated and that HIV patients do not default on medication.