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Going to see Abalaka

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Barricades in front of Abalaka’s clinic in Gwagwalada, Abuja CREDIT: Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze

There is no doubt that Dr. Jeremiah Abalaka is a seasoned medical professional who has carved a niche for himself. However going to see him in his clinic in Gwagwalada, an outskirt of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) was a herculean task and full of drama.

You needed to apply a lot of patience, persuasions, and tactics before you can win the confidence of the energetic 70-year-old surgeon who bounces up and down his clinic as if he were still in his mid-thirties.

Though Dr. Abalaka had been told, by the Health Editor, that a reporter would be coming to see him last Friday, picking his calls to be sure of his availability was very difficult. After several calls, I decided to send a text message and also informed the editor of the development.

Several minutes later, that was after the editor had contacted him to let Dr. Abalaka know that I had been calling, I got a message which read, “Good afternoon Nkechi. Just seeing your SMS now. I am sorry I didn’t pick your calls because I don’t pick calls from strange numbers for security reasons.”

A few minutes later, Dr. Abalaka called and repeated that for security reasons, he does not pick strange numbers. He gave me direction to his clinic and requested that I call him at intervals to let him know my location but this, coupled with his speech pattern raised some mixed feelings that I had to become security conscious myself and muttered a little prayer before proceeding on the journey. I, however, told myself that I would not call him until I was close to his clinic.

As I got to Gwagwalada I boarded a bike and told the bike rider precisely where I was heading to, and as expected, he turned, looked at me the second time and asked, “is it exactly Abalaka’s clinic that you are going to or? And I replied, “Yes, I am going to his clinic” and we zoomed off and about seven minutes later, he stopped in front of a house with barricades which I mistook for a military zone.

When the bike man asked me to get down, that the place he stopped was the clinic, I said, “no, I doubt if this is the clinic” and placed a call to Dr. Abalaka telling him I was close to his clinic. But I was surprised when he told me that he was on top of his roof and sent a phone number, of one of his workers who he asked me to call so that she could direct and bring me in.

Still standing in front of the clinic and with little doubt in my mind, I quickly called the Science and Health editor to inform him that the doctor he asked me to go and see said he was on top of his roof. He laughed and encouraged me to go on. As I looked up, I then saw a lady by the clinic gate starring at me, and I asked whether she was Mary and she said yes, and we exchanged greetings and walked in. When I asked of the doctor, Mary took me to the back of the house where I saw Dr. Abalaka climbing the top of the roof with a ladder to go and seal the punctures on the roof that was leaking water.

I went to the reception to wait for the doctor to finish the repairs.

After about 10 minutes, Mary came and said, ‘’Madam, oga said I should ask you whether you are ready so that he can come down, that he noticed that you are checking your phone.”

“Oh my God”, I was somehow perplexed, “how did he get to know that I was scrolling my phone being that he was at the backyard and on top of the roof? Is he monitoring me through a camera or is it that he is a half-human half spirit?” I soliloquised but had to put up a smile and quickly responded, “I had to keep myself busy since he is not ready but tell him that I am ready.”

But from my observation and interaction with Dr. Abalaka, he is a very hospitable, intelligent and a jolly good fellow who knows how to laugh and how to make others laugh too

When he eventually came down, Abalaka said, “Nkechi, good to see you. My hobby is to face challenges, the problem you cannot solve, and you rattle your head, that is what I enjoy.”
But doctor, people still doubt the authenticity of your claim that you have a cure for Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV)

Abalaka replied: “20 years after, people are still doubting it, that is normal in medicine because the same people who are doubting me were the ones who told the world that there is no cure for HIV, that there is no vaccine that prevents HIV. I am not the one who said that they have been saying it since 35years ago up till now. The same people told us and have even developed a guideline that if you are from the developing world, you can’t even conceive the idea of how to produce an HIV vaccine, only those in the developed world can conceive, develop it and go and try it in populations in the developing world. They said no single country can do it, and that it will take many years to do it, and will take extensive international collaboration. For 35 years they have been doing it, they have failed and if they don’t change, failure is still waiting for them, and they are not ready for change.

“I am not a virologist, I am not a microbiologist, I am not a pathologist, I am a surgeon but I like challenges. When this HIV discovery came out in 1984, the Americans promised us that they would get a vaccine for human beings within three years. As of this year, they are still telling us they are nowhere near getting HIV vaccine now than they were then. I went into this work as a hobby, by training I am a surgeon, I had only a little training in immunology but that little training came to my service because somewhere along the line, when I was training in immunology, I was sent to Geneva, Switzerland for an immunological conference by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in October 1974. By then I was a young bachelor and the elderly people were interested in me and one of them from South Korea continued telling me, ‘Jerry, the future of medicine is the future of immunology, you must get the principles correct, a lot of diseases may be discovered and people will be looking for vaccine. Remember Jerry, to develop a vaccine is not the problem, the problem is what are you going to use to develop the vaccine, what we call immunogen, what is your immunogen?’

“When this HIV came and till 1999 they were still talking of failure, in 1991 I told myself, ‘Jerry this has become a challenge, the experts said vaccine would be ready by 1987, up till now they are saying no way, that the organism is very tricky but is their immunogen correct?’ That was the question I asked myself. What immunogen are they using? They are on a treasure hunt, looking for a part of the HIV. Are they to use the GP120, GP41, what are they to use. And they have been working on who will get the magical part of the HIV that will provide protection. That is what the whole world has been doing, spending billions of dollars every year worldwide, public and private funds.

“When I studied the features of HIV as announced by them, I could see there was a problem and there was no way these people could get the vaccine the way they were going. How can they say it’s a part of the virus, did they have a meeting with HIV and HIV told them you cannot overcome me unless you use a part of my being? I laughed at them, the issue is to get the correct immunogen and work out how to use that immunogen, it took me five years of rattling my brain, literally day in day out before I decided this is the immunogen that may likely work, not this one they are talking about. I could see that their immunogen was wrong and

“I told them since 1999, they have to open the envelope of their understanding, if they don’t, they will continue to fail. Some years back, they made a vaccine and called it ‘Vaccine of Vaccines.’ They did animal and control trials and said it was fantastic and they came to human trial, they did the trial in South Africa. They used placebos and vaccine and were to do it for over three years and before the time elapsed, they announced it had failed because more people who took the vaccine had developed HIV compared to those who took nothing, those who took placebos. I came into vaccine discovery as a hobby but with some fundamental knowledge. I have my target; I am not copying Robert Gallo who said the same logic would apply. What is the logic between Hepatitis B and HIV are they twins? You applied the same logic and have failed for 35 years and you are still following that. I am in a class of my own; I have abandoned them.”

So why are they rejecting your vaccine?
Abalaka said: “One of the reasons is economic, they know that the money involved is too much. If they told the world that if there were a vaccine to prevent HIV today, even if it is 40 percent effective, 300 million people would take it worldwide, work out the money. Meaning, if they discover a preventive vaccine against HIV and you give it to 100 people, and it protects only 40 percent, is that good enough? No, that is not good enough. You can make the vaccine as effective as other vaccines, 90-95 percent. I have demonstrated that with myself after I developed my vaccine, I modified it to become a preventive vaccine using the blood of people who are infected with HIV. I don’t keep viral cultures, I turned it into a vaccine and gave to myself, I gave myself three doses at the monthly interval and I have injected myself intravenously six times and 20 years later, no HIV. One thing is that the vaccine they are using if they take GP120 or GP41 to produce a vaccine, anybody who takes it will produce antibodies against GP120 or GP 41. My own vaccine has no such confusion; it has no HIV antibodies at all because my immunogen is unlike their own which is a part of the virus.

“I have challenged them and said, “if you don’t believe me, call a public meeting and bring someone of my blood group who is HIV positive, I will do the test, you just come and watch, I will take 1ml of the persons blood inside anticoagulant, mix it publicly there and inject on myself and we go away and three months later, you take my blood and check if I have antibodies against HIV or HIV itself but they refused, why did they refuse to do it? That is because they know that if they do that, they have admitted I have the preventive vaccine and they don’t want Nigeria to benefit from that money. The money is astronomical, Britain, France and United States (U.S.) entered an agreement since 1986 that it is one of their researchers that will likely develop a vaccine against HIV and whoever develops it, the three of them will share the money equally.”
But why are you not receiving any support from the federal government?

Abalaka said: “All I expected from them to say was, ‘Jerry come, we want to confirm your claim, we agree on it’ and they confirm it. But my government has refused for the past 20 years since other doctors have been telling them that I am killing so many people with my vaccine partly because they are jealous. They call themselves immunologists, they call themselves microbiologists and a nonentity called a surgeon will develop the vaccine, we must pull him down. In the whole country now I doubt if there is anyone working on producing HIV vaccine, yet all they do is to criticize Dr. Abalaka that is their common ground now. They want to be promoted in the Presidency, they talk bad about me, they want to be promoted in the Ministry of Health, and they talk bad about me so that they can continue getting their foreign aid.

“But I have so many people who have been cured, one came to me as a colonel in the Nigerian Army, I treated him and he was cured and he later rose to become the Chief of Army Staff. When I made my discovery, the first person I wrote to, was Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, in February 1999 but he did nothing. One of our presidents wrote to the United Nations that I am not even a medical doctor, that I was a quack, he also wrote to the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) to remove my name from the medical register and I got a mail from MDCN to appear for disciplinary proceedings for my ‘therapeutic breakthrough in the treatment of HIV.’ I consulted my lawyer and we had to go to court, it was the court that stopped them.

Later, on July 20, 2000, the government announced that they have banned all those people who claimed to have a cure for HIV. There were 26 claimants then but I was their target because other claimants were quacks. I sued the federal government, I won in court but to date, the government has done nothing. Because I presented cases of patients who were positive and are now negative.
So why did you refuse to subject your vaccine to clinical trial?

Abalaka said: “You will see it in the journal that I am ready even till today, I can sit here and do it now. Let the government bring a patient who is HIV positive, I take their blood and give to myself. In science, it becomes a matter of belief. So let the government identity people that are HIV positive and publicly I will do the test. If anyone wants to test the potency of my vaccine and you think you are bound by time, it’s very easy, there are tests now to identify those who were infected recently. Bring 10 of such people and let me start the treatment, within the next three months, the trial is concluded and if by your own test have become negative, is there any doubt again?

Are you worried that government could not stand by you?
Abalaka said: “I am not worried because we are not a country of scientific culture, to begin with, everything is prayer. The people who get more patients than any other hospital in Nigeria are the prayer houses. You see their signboards and Nigerians gather, no diagnosis, just shouting and shouting, just making money. T

he Nigerian government has money to gain by objecting to me, they get paid to be salesmen for the antiretroviral drugs and the Western world will go round and make them ambassadors for anti-retroviral drugs. The Nigerian government has approved for the manufacture of anti-retroviral drugs in Nigeria because they are making a lot of money in dollars. If they support Dr. Abalaka, what will he give to us, a surgeon who is still climbing roof at his age.”


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