Friday, February 02, 2007

Medical Madness

Every once in a while a story comes along and you have to check that its not April Fools day, this is one such example from the BBC. The President of the Gambia and his health minister claim to have a cure for AIDS that works in 3 days and is a secret blend of medicinal herbs. There are very few details except that they claim that patients taking their potion have put on weight and their physical condition has improved. One patient, university lecturer Ousman Sowe had this to say:
I've noticed I've increased weight substantially over the last 10 days. I am no longer suffering from constipation, but we have yet to receive result of the tests.

I have 100% confidence in the president and I'm taking the medication with all confidence.
Sounds convincing to me, don't get me wrong it would be great if a bunch of herbs could cure a disease modern science is still years away from destroying, but I just don't buy it. To me it sounds exactly what you would expect from the placebo effect, this guy believes that the President can cure him so he feels better. This is exactly the reason why medicines are tested using the double blind technique, where neither the patient or the doctor involved knows if the real medicine or a placebo is being given. A quote from the President himself makes me even more skeptical.
I am not a witch doctor and in fact you cannot have a witch doctor. You are either a witch or a doctor.
So it would appear that while the President doesn't believe in witch doctors, he does believe that witches are real. Wow, I thought the US had it bad with their choice of leader.

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