SECRETARY for Health and Child Care Gerald Gwinji yesterday said government would find it difficult to license Prophetic Healing and Deliverance (PHD) Ministries leader Walter Magaya’s alleged new cure for HIV.
BY VENERANDA LANGA/XOLISANI NCUBE
Gwinji said Magaya did not follow due process when he unveiled his Aguma herb, which he claimed could cure the virus which causes Aids.
This came amid reports that the herb was now being sold on the market for up to $1 000.
Gwinji appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care chaired by Emakhandeni-Entumbane MP Dingilizwe Tshuma to speak about the 2019 health budget.
Glen Norah MP Wellington Chikombo (MDC Alliance) asked him to explain if his ministry was happy that an HIV cure had been found, and whether government was threatened by the new territory of herbs that the prophet had now entered into.
“We do not want to quash any new discoveries or innovations, but they have to go through the right processes so that issues of safety are assured,” Gwinji said.
“We will find it difficult to license it, and it will be difficult to authorise it to be sold at pharmacies until these issues are solved, and we are only playing our regulatory role in the pharmaceutical industry.”
However, reports indicate that Magaya has already started advertising his HIV and Aids “cure” despite government’s assertion that the herb had not yetbeen approved by authorities.
The Aguma immune booster sachet, according to social media adverts, was going for $500, while the capsules were being sold for $1 000.
Magaya launched the herbal medicine on Sunday, claiming it would cure the HIV pandemic as well as cancer in the shortest period of time.
His claims touched a raw nerve, with government and civic society groups alleging the youthful preacher was misleading the nation.
According to the adverts, Magaya claimed that the Aguma herb was a solution to health challenges — especially HIV and Aids, as well as cancer.
Attempts to get a comment from PHD Ministries spokesperson Admire Mango were fruitless, as his mobile phone was not being answered, while he did not respond to questions sent to him.
Government on Monday said there was no cure for HIV and Aids yet.
Meanwhile, Gwinji said the Health ministry was seeking $1,387 billion in next year’s national budget in order for the country to achieve the ideal $86 per capita (per person) allocation.
However, he said government was only promising an allocation of $689 million for 2019, leaving a deficit of $632 million.
He said Zimbabwe’s health sector continued to be reliant on external health financing sources that have contributed an average of 50% of total funding across the five years from 2014 to 2018.
“If government fails to fund the health sector, consequently, what will happen is that partners will say they are not interested in funding it and they will pull out,” Gwinji said.
“So we need to ensure that government meets the obligation of funding health in order to encourage partners to support us.”
In 2018, government contributed 49% towards health funding, the Global Fund 18% and the balance was by other partners.
Gwinji said Zimbabwe’s health budget had been failing to meet the target agreed to by African governments at the 2001 Abuja Declaration to allocate at least 15% of the total budget to health.
In 2015, it was 6,57%, while in 2016, it rose to 7,46%, but fell to 6,88% in 2017 and 5,84% in 2018.