At his traditional medicine shop on Phnom Penh’s Sothearos Boulevard on Thursday, In Chetra, 33, said he advertises his hepatitis folk-remedy three times a day on Bayon radio.
“Hepatitis B and C can be cured,” he said. “I have permission from the Ministry of Health to put the ad.”
On Street 130, traditional healer Ly Bunnarith said his once-a-day advertisement also runs on Bayon featuring information about traditional medicines that can cure hepatitis and other diseases.
“I guarantee that any hepatitis can be treated to recovery,” Ly Bunnarith said.
But according to the Health Ministry, it is against health regulations to sell medicines claiming to cure hepatitis, AIDS, cancer and other serious diseases.
On April 6, Health Minister Nuth Sokhom sent a letter to Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith stating “we have observed that advertising always violates announcements made by the Ministry of Health as well, they have not asked for permission to advertise.”
On Thursday Khieu Kanharith said he cannot stop the ads because of “journalistic freedom.”
“The rules of journalistic freedom don’t have censorship,” he said. “What else can I tell them? They should file lawsuits against them. Why stay quiet?”
Nuth Sokhom could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Hieng Punley, the director of the National Center for Traditional Medicines, said that the Information Ministry has told him it could not stop businessmen from advertising.
“The Ministry of Information says that they are private companies that they can’t control,” Hieng Punley said. “We will announce and produce leaflets to fight back, telling people not to believe traditional medicines.”
Hieng Punley said that the ads are untrue and pose a danger to the public health. He has said that the center advocates using herbal remedies only for minor health complaints. He claimed that powerful people own some of the traditional medicine companies.
“They are not afraid, they have influence,” he said.