Dr. Beetroot, AIDS denialist Manto Tshabala-Msimang, dead
Manto Tshabala-Msimang was a Minister of Health in the South African government from 1999 to 2008 under President Thabo Mbeki, also known as an AIDS denialist. She died today, December 16, 2009 in the Wits University Donald Gordon Medical Centre & Medi-Clinic ICU from complications related to her first liver transplant.
In spite of the fact that she had received a medical degree from the First Leningrad Medical Institute, a diploma in obstetrics and gynaecology from the University of Dar es Salaam Medical School and a Master of Public Health at the University of Antwerp, she chose to ignore scientific evidence and peddle beetroot, garlic, lemons and potatoes while warning against the possible toxicities of AIDS drugs. This is where she got her nickname “Dr. Beetroot” from.
We will never know how many people have died as a result of this policy but estimates go into the hundreds of thousands, and we can only speculate about the terrible circumstances in which they died and the suffering it caused their families.
The way she was thinking is a prime example of paralogical reasoning: reasoning that AIDS drugs are toxic and therefore possibly harmful, and sold by greedy pharmaceutical companies she advocated against them and advised to use garlic, beetroot and such instead.
It is indeed so that AIDS drugs are toxic. Because of that, a healthy person taking them would be a fool. However, people with AIDS are not healthy people. They are very sick people who are going to die within a very short time. Thanks to the AIDS drugs, they live longer, happier lives with less suffering.
Ideally, AIDS should be cured. But, there is no cure yet. So, people with AIDS have two choices: take the toxic drugs from the greedy pharmaceutical companies and live a longer, more fulfilling life, or go the alternology route sipping beetroot juice with garlic, dying fast, in horrible pain and discomfort, secure in the knowledge that they did not take toxic drugs and did not enrich the greedy pharmaceutical companies.
Given the choice, I’ll go with the toxic drugs from the greedy pharmaceutical companies any day. You may opt for the other, deadlier choice. Just think of the people who died in South Africa, however. They didn’t have that choice. People like Manto Tshabala-Msimang and Thabo Mbeki made the choice for them.
This should be a warning for people who run to medical doctors who also dabble in alternology: medical degrees are no guarantee against utter stupidity and/or unadulterated greed. There is a reason why certain treatments are part of the medical arsenal, and others aren’t.
Some medical doctors see alternology as a harmless non-treatment they can apply when the patient demands a treatment where the doctor thinks no treatment is necessary. That is a choice. In my view, this is patronizing and insulting as the doctor effectively treats the patient as if he/she were a brainless idiot.
On top of that, it gives the patient the idea that the alternological treatment is a valid treatment. Needless to say, that this can be highly dangerous.