Company Defends Immune System Trials to Local NGOs Sensationalism on Immune TRrial

A company proposing to use 3,000 Cambodian orphans to test a treatment designed to build immune systems is accusing a local NGO of sensationalizing and spreading rumors about its plans.

David Cambridge Christner, president of World Health Ad­vanced Technologies Ltd, a subsidiary of Hansi International Ltd, sent an e-mail recently to South­east Asian Outreach def­end­ing the plan and criticizing the NGO for talking about it negatively to the media.

“Sensationalism is something that we shy away from with great vigor,” Christner wrote. “Mega­lomaniacs love media attention and spreading vicious rumors.”

Nigel Goddard, executive dir­ector of Southeast Asian Out­reach, said he did not want to respond to Hansi’s criticisms. The NGO had been contacted by Hansi a few months ago because of its work with orphans.

“I don’t want to get into that negativity,” Goddard said.

Several weeks ago, health-care experts and NGOs including Southeast Asian Outreach ex­pressed concern about Hansi’s proposal to conduct a six-month to two-year trial to see if five droplets of medication from Argentina’s rain forests would boost human immune systems.

They said Hansi’s proposal raised concerns of companies taking advantage of Cambodia’s disadvantaged children. They also wanted to ensure that Hansi went through proper procedures and abided by ethical guidelines.

“If they can do half of what they say they can, it would be great,” Goddard said then. “But coming in with that large of a trial using orphans of all groups, it’s got to raise questions.”

Hansi is the name Argentinean botanist Juan Hirschmann gave to his homeopathic treatment for cancer, AIDS and hepatitis. An Internet site claims “Hansi is a story of people, tens of thousands strong, who believe Hansi is a discovery to end disease on earth.”

Christner claimed that Hansi has an agreement with the government, but he didn’t give further details. He said “we really do want to proceed.”

However, officials at the Min­istry of Health, the government agency that normally would give permission to a medical trial, said so far they have not even re­ceived an application from Hansi.

“It’s not true that Hansi has an agreement with the government,” said Eng Huot, director gen­eral of health promotion at the ministry. “I don’t know what Hansi is talking about.”

Bun Heng, chief of cabinet at the ministry, said Secretary of State Mam Bun Heng met a few weeks ago with World Health Organization Rep­res­entative Bill Pigott, who said the Hansi proposal did not sound like a good idea.

Bahamas-based Hansi said they selected Cambodia because the cost here would be a fraction of that in the West and because they have humanitarian motives.

“Hansi is proven non-toxic in over 120,000 patients,” Christner wrote. “Homeopathy has never shown adverse affects except when grossly abused.”

He said he would contact Goddard “upon our return to Cambodia and perhaps we can restart under different circumstances.”

Hansi has been working with local NGO Concern Inter­na­tional, a Christian group. Jim Franks, president of Concern, told Goddard in an e-mail that US-based Concern “does not have any dissatisfaction with Dr Christner or his organization.” (Concern is not connected to Concern Worldwide, an Irish NGO operating in Cam­bodia.)

Stephane Rousseau, executive director of the health care um­brella organization Medicam, said he understood why Christ­ner would be upset, considering the criticism of Hansi’s proposed project recently. He said he would send a reply to Christner, reiterating his call to hold a meeting between Hansi and Medicam members to discuss the proposal.

“I’m happy to see there was a reaction from NGOs and the media,” Rousseau said. “It’s an excellent case study. Hopefully, all private companies will be discouraged to try to get through the loopholes.”




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