The Director-General of Ghana Aids Commission (GAC), Dr. Mokowa Blay-Adu-Gyamfi has said that locally manufactured COA FS drug is not an immune booster, a claim that has been debunked by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) as untrue.
Speaking at a recent press conference organized by the GAC, in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS) and the National Aids Control Program (NACP), the D-G of GAC stated categorically that in a letter to the GAC, FDA stated that “COA FS is only a food supplement but not an immune booster.”
But the Head of Herbal and Traditional Medicines at FDA, Emmanuel Yaw Kwarteng said that what the GAC D-G said was not true because COA FS is indeed a tried, tested and certified immune booster, and he personally believes the drug has promise as far as the fight against HIV is concerned.
Indeed, the approval letter FDA issued to COA, clearly states that COA FS has been certified as a food supplement and an immune support drug.
The bare facts
COA FS (COA Food Supplement) is a herbal medicine, which derives its name from the Ghanaian-based manufacturer called Centre of Awareness (COA). It is designed to be an efficient immune booster to help one’s immune system fight diseases and disease-causing viruses, bacteria and others.
The drug has been duly tested and certified by the FDA as a food supplement that supports/boosts the immune system.
The position of the manufacturer of the drug, Dr. Samuel Ato Duncan has always been that to the extent that HIV is nothing more than a human immuno-deficiency virus, once COA FS boosts one’s immune system, the system fights the virus on its own and eventually destroys it.
COA and GAC
Way back in 2007, COA wrote to GAC and informed them about their findings regarding the efficacy of COA drug, from which COA FS was derived, and GAC, in a letter dated January 23, 2007, referred them to the Ministry of Health to prepare the drug for further testing at the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research. COA obliged and eventually the drug got to Noguchi for testing.
On October 5, 2012, Noguchi released the report on their findings and stated categorically that in their in-vitro (test tube) test, the drug reduced the viral load in a subject by 70 – 80 per cent. One of the Noguchi researchers, Dr. Jacob Barnor then went on GTV and stated categorically that indeed, the COA drug reduced the viral load in subjects significantly and that was a positive sign that the drug could be a potential cure for HIV.
Dr. Barnor also stated that the drug showed a potential of completely destroying the virus in a subject if applied consistently. What was left after that was for the drug to go for a clinical test, which is when humans with HIV will be used for the experiment.
Clinical test in SA
The clinical test could have been ordered by the key stakeholders in the HIV management in Ghana, ie. GAC, GHS and NACP, because they had the mandate, per their mission statement to seek an eventual cure for the disease. But all of these institutions continued to remain aloof and indifferent for reasons only known to themselves. So South Africa became an option.
The University of Kwazulu Natal graciously agreed to host the clinical test. Eighteen HIV patients in South Africa agreed to be part of the test. The result of months of test showed that the patients put exclusively on the COA drug, became totally free of the virus. Two of them, Bandile Mdlalose and China Ngubane were in Ghana to tell their own stories. Interestingly, the two were researchers themselves so they understood what they were doing. Indeed, the South African pharmacist who led the research, Manimbulu Nlooto used the report for his doctorate thesis and was awarded the doctorate degree.
In simple language, the South African clinical showed that the injectable version of COA drug, which is the COA 72, is intramuscular and it smokes HIV from the tissues and organs into the blood stream, while the intravenous version destroys them and flushes them out of the body completely.
Ebola in Sierra-Leone
Remember that COA FS was all along being pushed as an immune booster and not specifically a cure for HIV. So in Sierra Leone, the Ministry of Health agreed to use it to fight Ebola, and per the Deputy Minister Fordi Sawi’s own testimony, it worked effectively and several Ebola patients put on it recovered.
Back home in Ghana, several people have testified openly of being cured of terminal conditions like breast cancer, kidney failure and others. Popular Ghanaian Musician, OJ Black had stage four kidney failure and was set for dialysis when he was introduced to COA FS and today he is free from the disease and is walking healthy.
In spite of all these significant result, Dr. Samuel Ato Duncan has never said anywhere that the drug is a cure for HIV and AIDS. Indeed, as a professional scientist himself, who has worked at GAC before, he knows the several standardization protocols a drug needs to go through before being certified as a cure for particular disease. Dr. Duncan’s claim has always been that COA FS is a potential cure for HIV. But there is no doubt that COA FS is a certified immune booster that has proven to be efficacious against several disease-causing micro organisms, including HIV. That is not a false statement as the South African test and several other users across Ghana would show.
Indeed, Dr. Duncan has always said the persons on the antiretroviral drugs should not give it up for COA FS, but if they so wished, they could use COA FS as a supplement because whereas antiretroviral drugs suppress the virus, COA FS actually destroys them, as the result from Noguchi, and Kwazulu Natal University showed.
In addition to the test on humans in South Africa, the Centre for Scientific Research into Plant Medicine in Ghana also did a toxicity test on COA FS to determine its safety for human consumption. In their report, dubbed “Report of Safety Evaluation on COA”, released June 20, 2013, they stated, among other things that there is no overt specific toxicity following chronic administration of COA FS at the dose prescribed.
They stated further that even when one consumes between 10 to 20 times the prescribed dose, one would need to be monitored even though there were still no obvious risks. The report pointed out that the only obvious side effect of drinking COA FS is weight loss.
Indeed, the side effects of COA FS, which is just weight loss and boosted appetite for food, is nothing to be compared with the numerous uncomfortable and sometimes life threatening side effects of antiretroviral drugs, which include vomiting, nausea, bone loss, liver, kidney and pancreas damage, depression, diarrhea, bleeding, diabetes, high blood sugar and many more that need close medical attention.
In spite of all the evidence, GAC and their collaborators, including even the persons living with HIV have decided never to pay attention to COA FS or commit any resources to look further into it and see if there is the slightest possibility of Ghana being the first to discover an effective cure for HIV ahead of others for once.
Meanwhile, the mission statement of the GAC clearly states that “The Ghana AIDS Commission, as the highest policy making body on HIV and AIDS, provides effective and efficient leadership in coordination of all programmes and activities of all stakeholders (MDAs, Private Sector, Development Partners and Civil Society) in the Fight against HIV and AIDS through advocacy, joint planning, monitoring and evaluation FOR THE EVENTUAL ELIMINATION OF THE DISEASE.
In effect, the sum total of all GAC does should culminate in the eventual elimination of the HIV and AIDS disease. Part of their mandate is to coordinate the activities of PRIVATE SECTOR organizations in Ghana, in the fight against HIV and AIDS. So it beats one’s mind why the commission and its collaborators appear to be totally opposed to any suggestion of a potential cure for HIV and AIDS by a Ghanaian private sector organization. There is no evidence of anything the GAC itself is doing to find a cure, except to receive antiretroviral drugs recommended by the others, and then receive millions of dollars to go round distributing those drugs and doing fruitless monitoring and evaluation and awareness just to justify why they need more money to continue doing more of the same things.
If GAC is serious about fulfilling its mission and putting Ghana on the global map as the place where a cure for HIV was found, they would have been investing a fraction of the millions they use for monitoring and evaluation to fund further research into the local drugs that have showed promise in fighting HIV. Rather, they and their collaborators continue to make statements that betray their intention to suppress and destroy any and every attempt at getting a local solution to HIV.
Some of the statements they make are that those who claim the drugs found in Ghana can deal with the HIV should inject themselves with the virus and use those drugs to cure themselves, then they could be believed. One finds that kind of statement very unfortunate because the GAC and its collaborators are happily distributing antiretroviral drugs even though none of them has injected themselves with HIV and used those drugs to confirm their efficacy. They took it hook line and sinker from the white man. To their minds, once it is from abroad, it is from God.
They also claim, as stated earlier, that COA FS is not an immune booster, but that has been proven to be a lie from the pit of hell, because the FDA, to whom GAC falsely attributed that statement, has not only denied it, but also stated that COA FS is actually a certified immune booster. They have gone on further to state that COA FS shows promise as a potential cure for HIV.
GAC also claims antiretroviral drugs are free but COA FS cost money. It is very sad to hear this from an organization mandated to look for an eventual elimination for HIV. Research cost money. GAC has not even bothered to invest into the research into COA FS or any such local drug, and they pretend the pharmaceutical companies producing antiretroviral drugs abroad give them out for free. The truth is wealthy philanthropists and organizations abroad pay for the research into and manufacturing of antiretroviral drugs and that is how patients, rich and poor, get them for free. If the GAC or government is willing to invest into the local research and production, why would the manufacturer sell it to patients?
This African mentality that, as a people, we should always look for free alternatives from the abroad, even if that means we have to abandon the potential of we emerging with a global level breakthrough, is killing many dreams in Africa. The posture of GAC and its collaborators is typical of that.
One cannot fathom why GAC, for instance, recommended further test on COA FS by Noguchi and yet when the Noguchi report came out, their stance was indifference; and even after the clinical test in South Africa still GAC claims they are not aware; and after FDA passed COA FS as an immune booster, the first thing GAC did was to come out and spew out untruths that FDA said COA FS is not an immune booster.
It is not surprising to find GAC going on this pull-him-down path with COA drug. When Prof. Ayisi of Noguchi discovered the goat serum in 2005, the predecessors of the current GAC staff, including Pof. Fred Sai and Prof. Sakyi Amoa, then Director-General of GAC, kicked against it with two main excuses:
- That the goat serum was only tested on goats and not on humans, even though they agreed that it was efficacious against HIV 2.
- That the drug never went though a toxicology test so it could not be certified as safe for human consumption.
As we speak now, it is clear that the COA drug has been through lab test, clinical (tested on humans) and has also gone through a toxicology test and proven efficacious against HIV and safe for human consumption. Yet the descendants of the GAC mafia are quick to lie it is even not an immune booster and has not been certified.
Clearly, they are not interested is the evidence but just the propaganda just to kill the local initiative in favor of the antiretroviral drugs that come with millions of dollars of transport money for them to travel around in luxury cars and distribute drugs and to carry out needless evaluations and awareness.
It is appropriate to, once again, borrow the words of Lawyer Ace Ankomah and say this is pure ABAKS – abro, beyie, atrimuoden, krono ne sikadie. There is so much free money flowing the way of GAC and its collaborators just for them to keep distributing antiretroviral drugs. Once we find a potential cure, the guard will change hands and that money might go into further research instead of going into their usual monitoring and evaluation and related activities. Obviously, they need to mount a wall to protect the benefits they draw from that mundane activity at the expense of securing a potential cure for the patients.
Sadly though, the desperate infected persons have been so easily bought by the GAC such that they are also up in arms fighting against the claims of a potential cure. One of them was naive enough to reveal that the claims about COA FS is making their international sponsors uncomfortable. So obviously, it is all about pleasing the foreigners so that they will keep sending money to GAC for more of the same things.
It is time for President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to stand on his feet and look into the COA drug beyond the claims of Dr. Duncan and the negative posturing of GAC and its collaborators. It is important for the president to at least look at what Noguchi has said and give direction on what the country must do with the information available so far. It is never too late to commission clinical tests in Ghana and have our own result, if we still don’t believe in South Africa, even though most of the elite in Ghana, including politicians, run to South Africa for medical attention so very often.
Indeed, COA did submit reports about the drug to the former president, John Mahama and he initiated steps to look into it further. They have done same for the sitting president and it is now on him to act in the interest of the public and not the few pessimistic folks at GAC and their collaborators.
The money that will be spent in researching this drug further is probably a fraction of what GAC receives every year and dishes out to NGOs for monitoring, evaluation and awareness creation. The moneys they use in buying luxury cars just to drive around in the name of monitoring HIV status, could go into further research. If the so-called international financiers feels threatened by this discovery and because of that they want to stop funding GAC activities, then it is time for us to stand up for ourselves for once and put our name on the global health map.
Mr. President this is important because GAC and its collaborators have used this same posturing and negative comments to kill every potential that emerged in the past. We know of the famous Nana Drobo saga and the goat serum story. Nana Drobo eventually lost his life. Prof. Ayisi had to coil in his shells because his life was allegedly under threat. Dr. Ato Duncan now has a police escort because he knows what happened to people like him. Mr. President, please don’t allow this local mafia and their pay masters abroad to kill yet another dream and potential cure for HIV.