The Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 should take punitive measures against Nigerian televangelist and the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Prophet T.B. Joshua, for releasing anointing water and sticker to fight COVID-19.
Joshua’s anointing water poses a danger to public health, especially at this time when Nigeria is trying to contain the coronavirus pandemic. T.B, Joshua on January 1, 2021 was seen on his twitter handle holding the so-called anointing water – as if it was a tested and proven remedy for the pandemic. Joshua said: “This new anointing water- never a sickness that it cannot heal, never an affliction that it cannot cure, never a problem it cannot solve in Jesus Name”. T.B Joshua is not new to making reckless and irresponsible faith healing statements.
In the past years, Joshua has succeeded in turning his Synagogue church into a pilgrim center and a huge business empire by selling anointing water and stickers that he said could heal all sorts of diseases, including infertility and HIV/AIDS.
As in his other faith healing products, there is no evidence for the safety, efficacy, and potency of the anointing water and sticker as a cure for the coronavirus. Thus, T.B Joshua’s claims are misleading. His promotion of COVID-19 anointing water constitutes a violation of the WHO guidelines for the management of the pandemic because Joshua’s claims are not based on facts or science. Simply put, his ‘anointing water’ is another fake remedy for COVID-19 and a demonstration of Joshua’s desperation to mine people’s gullibility and anxieties over COVID-19.
The World Health Organisation has warned against the spread and costs of misinformation about the pandemic. It has taken measures to counter misinformation and disinformation about the virus. Joshua is a well-known evangelist who claims to have faith healing powers. His release of anointing water and sticker is likely to put the health of millions of his followers at risk. Many will purchase the anointed water and sticker which have no verifiable and confirmable therapeutic value. Many people are likely to indulge in risky behaviors or shun evidence-based guidelines for the management of COVID-19 such as wearing face masks, social distancing, and washing of hands believing that the anointing water and sticker would heal them if they contract the virus. In fact, Joshua’s anointing water will help spread and not fight COVID-19.
Health authorities in Nigeria should take steps to call T.B Joshua and other purveyors of faith healing wares to fight COVID-19 to order.
-Dr. Leo Igwe is the Chief Executive Director, Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AFAW)