Minister cum herbalist confirms working on HIV/AIDS treatment

Johannesburg- South Africa (PANA) -- South Africa's Public Works minister Stella Sicau this week confirmed that she was concocting traditional medicine to treat HIV/AIDS sufferers.
Earlier this week it emerged that the senior cabinet minister from the Eastern Cape was brewing a strange concoction in her rural kitchen, which she prescribed to locals suffering from HIV/AIDS.
"My people in the Lusikisiki area know of a mixture that when taken as a dietary supplement, is believed to boost the immune system," Sicau said, confirming she was manufacturing a herbal treatment.
Villagers living near Sicau's homestead have consequently found a new source of income selling peach leaves to the minister for five rand a bag.
Apparently the leaves are dried in her yard and later ground into a powder that is used as main ingredient in the mixture.
An elderly woman of about 70, Patience Manqadi, who lives on the minister's rural property, affirmed that the concoction was already being prescribed to AIDS sufferers.
"I believe that traditional medicine may have a role to play in combating viral diseases and should be assessed," Sicau said, adding "this is at a very early stage".
Noting that AIDS was a serious problem throughout Africa, the minister said "if I can contribute to fighting the disease then I have a moral obligation to try and help my people".
So far she has escaped criticism from HIV/AIDS activists, by saying her herbal medicine, which she plans to patent, was not a cure for AIDS but could provide some relief.
"At the moment AIDS is incurable, but that makes it all the more important to pursue avenues that might give some relief," Sicau argued.
Although the minister does not hold any formal medical qualifications, she said "I have always had an interest in traditional African medicine, because I believe that Africa holds a vast store of medical knowledge that so far remains untapped".
The Health ministry, with its convoluted and controversial stance on AIDS treatments has been silent on the matter.

27 july 2001 21:39:00

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