An American pastor from New Jersey backed by a British former clairvoyant is running a network that gives up to 50,000 Ugandans a “miracle cure” made from industrial bleach, claiming drinking the toxic fluid eradicates cancer, HIV/Aids, malaria and most other diseases.
The network, led by pastor Robert Baldwin and part-funded by Sam Little from Arlesey in Bedfordshire, is one of the most extensive efforts yet to distribute the “miracle cure” known as MMS, or “miracle mineral solution”. The Guardian has learned that poor Ugandans, including infants as young as 14 months old, are being given chlorine dioxide, a product that has no known health benefit and can be extremely dangerous.
On Tuesday, the US embassy in Kampala warned on the pastor’s activities and condemned him.
Baldwin, 52, is importing bulk shipments of the components of MMS, sodium chlorite and citric acid, into Uganda from China. The two chemicals are mixed to produce chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleach used in the textile industry.
The American pastor has “trained” about 1,200 clerics in Uganda on administering the “miracle cure” and each in turn uses it to treat about 50 congregants, usually after Sunday service. As an inducement, Baldwin is offering smartphones to those clerics who are especially “committed” to spreading the bleach cure.
Baldwin operates under a ministry he founded called Global Healing. The “church” advertises itself as “using the power of Almighty God … to greatly reduce the loss of life” in Africa.
Yet in a phone conversation with Fiona O’Leary, a campaigner against quack medicine who spoke to him while posing as a freelance journalist, Baldwin said he distributed the bleach through churches to “stay under the radar”.
“We don’t want to draw any attention,” he said during the call, a recording of which has been heard by the Guardian. “When you draw attention to MMS you run the risk of getting in trouble with the government or drug companies. You have to do it low key. That’s why I set it up through the church.”
He added that as a further precaution he uses euphemisms on Facebook, where he raises money through online donations. “I don’t call it MMS, I call it ‘healing water’, to protect myself. They are very sophisticated. Facebook has algorithms that can recognize ‘MMS’.”
Baldwin, who trained as a student nurse and is understood to have no other medical expertise, said he chose Uganda because it was a poor country with weak regulation. Speaking from New Jersey, where he is based, he told O’Leary: “America and Europe have much stricter laws so you are not as free to treat people because it is so controlled by the FDA. That’s why I work in developing countries.”
He added: “Those people in poor countries they don’t have the options that we have in the richer countries – they are much more open to receiving the blessings that God has given them.”
Asked how babies and children were treated with MMS, he said the dose was reduced by half. “Little tiny infants can take a small amount, they will spit it out. It causes no harm – they just get diarrhea.”