As it has become customary with other Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) cure claims since the advent of the dreaded disease some years ago, the recent claim by a University of Benin (UNIBEN) lecturer, Prof. Isaiah Ibeh, that he has discovered a herbal drug that cures the disease has been mired in deep controversy.
It all began with the swift disclaimer from the authorities of UNIBEN even before the don’s claim was subjected to scientific tests. The Provost, College of Medical Sciences of the University, Prof. Vincent Iyawe, said the university could not vouch for the claims of Ibeh for now because the institution was not carried along in the research. Also, the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has invited Ibeh for a possible verification of his claim. Ibeh, the Dean of School of Basic Medical Sciences of UNIBEN recently announced that he has developed a new drug that can cure HIV and AIDS.
He informed journalists in Benin, Edo State, that the herbal drug, Bioclean II (DXL-Deconcuction X-Liquid) is capable of wiping out HIV or significantly lower its load within a month. Ibeh also said that the new drug has undergone series of medical examinations in Nigeria and the United States. According to him, the drug has performed well on patients with the HIV virus and has shown evidence of total restoration of damaged tissues. While there is the need to subject Ibeh’s claim to scientific analysis in order to establish the truth or otherwise of his claim, we frown on the haste with which Nigerians and some professional bodies in the country, especially the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), discredit scientific feats or claims emanating from Nigeria.
We recall the case of Prof. Augustine Njoku-Obi who discovered cholera vaccine in the 70s and Dr. Oliver Ugo’s in-vitro fertilization or test-tube baby claim in the 1980s. In the case of Njoku-Obi, he left the shores of Nigeria with his invention to the USA where it was verified and adopted for use. There was also AIDS cure claim by one Dr. Jeremiah Abalaka in 2000. In the same Nigerian fashion of condemning before verification, Abalaka’s claim was also discredited. The level of skepticism among Nigerians, especially those in medical sciences, cannot take us anywhere in discovering new things. There is the need now to encourage research in life-threatening health conditions of which AIDS is one of them.
Nobody can say with certainty where the cure for AIDS lies. There is even a possibility that it can come from often neglected quarters. Condemning and disowning every attempt by Nigerian scientists to find a cure for the disease is unscientific and disingenious. We should not be taking sardonic delight in condemning everything Nigerian. Ibeh should have been given a benefit of doubt until the contrary is proved. This attitude of condemn before verification is most unhelpful. It cannot allow innovation to thrive. We believe that there are scientific bodies that can verify Ibeh’s claim
. The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research and similar bodies should help out to determine the veracity of Ibeh’s claim. Prof. Ibeh is not an ordinary man in the street. He is the Dean of Basic Medical Sciences of an old generation university in the country. His claim of AIDS cure should not be dismissed with a wave of the hand. Rather, it should be subjected to scientific testing with a view to knowing the truth. Nigerians should not be left out of the search for AIDS cure. Since there are standard procedures for drug trials, Ibeh’s effort should not be lampooned.
The first line of action should not be condemnations and disclaimers as done by Ibeh’s University, NAFDAC and NMA. Our scientists should be encouraged in their spirited quest to find cure for AIDS and other endemic diseases in the country. We note Prof. Ibeh’s research effort and urge him to carry out all the necessary scientific procedures on the new drug. Relevant research institutes should also investigate his AIDS cure claim.