The Impact of the Presidential Alternative Treatment Program on Health Services for PLHIV and HIV Policy in The Gambia
Alumni: Jenna Ivan
Faculty: Sarah Bosha
Today, it is estimated that about 20,000 people are living with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (PLHIV) in The Gambia. A very low percentage of this population utilizes the most ideal treatment for HIV, which is antiretroviral therapy (ART). Multiple factors contribute to the lack of ART use, including cultural preference for traditional medicine, lack of education, and uncertainty of HIV policies. In 2007, the former president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, established the Presidential Alternative Treatment Program (PATP). Lasting ten years, this program forced participants to discontinue their ART to take Jammeh’s herbal treatment. Many people died or deteriorated in medical condition as a result of the program; however, research had not been performed examining how this program impacted health policy for HIV and health care provision for PLHIV in The Gambia. A qualitative study consisting of in-depth interviews of health care providers and policy implementers working with HIV in The Gambia was conducted to examine the impact. Themes pertaining to lack of compliance, fear, changes in health care provision, and human rights violations were identified through this study. Additionally, suggestions to improve education, increase ART use, and promote universal policy implementation have been identified.