IN a luxurious villa in Phnom Penh's Boeng Keng Kang district, a small camera bag
with a sternly lettered "Do Not X-Ray" sign holds what Dr David Green claims
is the key to a revolutionary advance in Cambodian health care.
"The Cambodian government could cut its health budget in half if this were made
available to the public," Green says as he lifts a dark glass ampoule from the
bag and begins filling a hypodermic needle with its contents.
The injections that Dr Green is dispensing to a steady stream of government officials
and business people are of "Hansi", described by its Bahamas-based American
manufacturer, Advanced Health Technologies (AHT), as a "herbal homeopathic preparation
of primarily desert and rainforest plants".
Green, a self-described acupuncturist and homeopath from Florida, is the AHT representative
in Cambodia who spearheaded the company's controversial and ultimately unsuccessful
attempt in January to seek official permission for a clinical trial of Hansi's effectiveness
using 3000 Cambodian orphans as test subjects.
Government officials and NGO officials reacted strongly to AHT's apparent unwillingness
to abide by Cambodian government ethical testing guidelines, and Dr Green quietly
packed his bags and left town.
Now back in Cambodia on what he says is his sixth trip to the country since Nov 1999,
Green winces at the mention of January's debacle and places blame for it on an embittered
former AHT employee who "is trying to destroy our work here".
"He's the one who spread rumors that we were going to inject orphans with poison,"
Green said of the Cambodian public perception of Hansi.
According to Green, "misunderstandings" created by the former employee
were compounded by media coverage of the issue.
Instead, AHT has persisted in direct negotiations with unnamed government officials,
culminating in what Green says is the likelihood of official permission to make Hansi
available in Cambodia "within three to six months".
"Cambodian officials are in complete agreement [with AHT's plans]," Green
said. "They are very enthusiastic about Hansi ... unlike other countries Cambodia
is totally open to be helped."
The key to that enthusiasm is Green's informal but apparently highly effective campaign
of winning support for Hansi's use in Cambodia by providing Hansi treatments to Cambodian
"I've treated more than one hundred high government officials in the past six
months," Green explained, adding that all the treatments have been "completely
free of charge". "One high official - I can't reveal his name - said that
if I successfully treated his wife I'd be his 'blood brother for life'... I was able
to cure her in one treatment."
According to Green, Hansi treatments provide fast, painless and completely risk-free
cures for everything from the common cold to cancer, prostatitis to diabetes.
"We've also had very encouraging results using [Hansi] to treat HIV," he
Green attributes Hansi's effectiveness to a combination of the formula itself in
combination with the "acupuncture meridian lines of the body" where it's
"Hansi works by balancing the energies in the human body which, when unbalanced,
are the sources of illness and disease," Green said. "No other substance
can do what Hansi can do."
To illustrate his point, Green leafs through a thick pile of what he says are various
independent laboratory analyses of Hansi's chemical components.
"Hansi has been tested repeatedly for toxicity and it's been proven that you
can't 'overdose' on it," he said. "You can take as much as you want and
it's completely safe."
AHT's objectives, according to Green, are to make Hansi available and affordable
for all Cambodians on a non-profit basis.
"We don't want to do any kind of tests or trials on orphans, we want to make
[Hansi} available to everyone in Cambodia," he said. "The cost of a Hansi
[injection treatment] should cost only fifty cents, while a daily treatment of the
oral drop formula should only cost about five cents."
However Nigel Goddard, Executive Director of Southeast Asian Outreach and the person
who first called public attention to AHT's activities in Cambodia, expresses skepticism
toward the company's declared change in strategy.
"If they are no longer planning any trials on orphans, then what are they doing
in Cambodia?", Goddard told the Post by email.
"If they did not like the publicity or could [not] follow guidelines for testing
the product, shouldn't they have to follow more stringent guidelines for selling
it? I don't know what the procedure is for this in Cambodia so this is conjecture
on my part."
Ministry of Health spokes-people contacted by the Post reiterated previous claims
that they had no knowledge of AHT's plans to seek official permission to either test
or market Hansi in Cambodia.