Sunday, 24 May 2009

Rescued Sex Workers Find Refuge


Founded by a former sex slave, The Somaly Mam Foundation was set up to rescue and rehabilitate victims of human trafficking. Somaly Mam blames organised crime networks, and corrupt officials, for Cambodia huge trafficking problem.

UN Chief Tours Sri Lanka War Devastation


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flew over Sri Lanka's last battlefield and urged the government to let more aid reach displaced Tamils complaining of hunger and separation from their families. (May 23)

Fake drugs and resistance to bug could unleash a malaria disaster

Business Report & Independent Online
May 24, 2009

By Simeon Bennett

Saron Samnith, 14, slouches in the doorway of his family's thatched hut off a dusty track near Pailin, a city in western Cambodia. He has chills, diarrhoea and a three-day-old headache - signs of malaria.

The bout of the mosquito-borne disease, for which he tested positive, is his second in a month. The first left him comatose and close to death, before medicines curbed the attack. Coursing through Saron's veins may be the strain so dangerous that health officials - and the billionaire Bill Gates - are racing to stop it from spreading before it kills millions.

In Pailin, a flood of counterfeit pills from China and elsewhere is helping to breed a superbug that resists even the most-effective medicine. The development threatens to unleash a global malaria "disaster" and undo decades of work to reduce illness, destitution and death, said Arjen Dondorp, a Thailand-based researcher.

"It's a time bomb," said Dondorp, the deputy director of the Wellcome Trust-Mahidol University Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Programme, with headquarters in Bangkok.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) plans to defuse the bomb with a screening and treatment programme to contain and eliminate the resistant strain in and near Pailin. The effort may begin next month. The programme is backed by $23 million (R192m) from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, based in Seattle.

"There's more money put into baldness drugs than is put into malaria," Gates said in February. "Because the disease is only in the poor countries, it doesn't get much investment. You can't get the economies in these areas going, because it just holds things back so much."

The risk of failure raises what Dorndop calls a "doom scenario". In that sequence of events, migrant workers would first carry the bug to Thailand, Myanmar and India. Later, the strain would spread to Africa, which already has most of the world's malaria cases.

"We rang the warning bell in 2005 and nobody believed us," said Pascal Ringwald, the Geneva-based WHO's leading specialist in the malaria parasite's ability to resist drugs.

The doom scenario may be a decade away from materialising, giving the world time to prevent it, said Charles Delacollette, the head of WHO's Mekong Malaria Programme, which covers Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and part of China.

"We don't have many alternatives to the antimalarial drug artemisinin, to which the parasite is becoming resistant in western Cambodia, Delacollette said. "That drug should be protected."

Interpol, the international police organisation based in Lyon, France, traced counterfeit drugs in Southeast Asia to China in 2006 as part of an investigation called Operation Jupiter.

Last year, under Operation Storm, Interpol arrested 27 people in raids across Asia and seized more than 16 million fake pills valued at almost $7 million (R58.5m).

Chemical analysis of pills bought in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam found several other pharmaceutical ingredients, charcoal, and a precursor of the illicit drug ecstasy, according to an account of Operation Jupiter published in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine. Also present were spores and pollen from trees common in southern China, suggesting that at least some of the drugs were made there, the authors said.

Interpol's actions hardly dented the global market for counterfeit pharmaceuticals, which may reach $75 billion in 2010, an increase of more than 90 percent from 2005, according to estimates by the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, a nonprofit organisation based in New York.

WHO says that fakes, typically cheaper than real drugs, may account for as much as 30 percent of all medicines in developing nations.

"We're talking about sophisticated, big syndicates, people who are very well organised," said Aline Plancon, the Interpol officer who co-ordinated the operations.

"It's just insane. They're making too much money, they're betting too much on the health of people. We will do it again and again."

Malaria strikes about 250 million people each year and kills more than 880 000, making it the world's most lethal mosquito-borne disease, according to WHO.

The malady is caused by a microscopic parasite called Plasmodium, which is carried in the saliva of female mosquitoes. When an infected insect bites a person, the parasites multiply in the liver before entering the bloodstream.

There they invade red cells, causing fever, chills, nausea and diarrhoea. Unchecked, the bugs cause red cells to stick to the walls of capillaries, slowing blood flow. Without treatment, sufferers can die from organ failure.

While Cambodia accounts for only about 0.4 percent of the world's malaria cases, the country is a breeding ground for strains that withstand medicines. Since the 1970s, at least three once-potent malaria drugs have failed in western Cambodia before becoming useless elsewhere in the world, according to WHO: first chloroquine and Roche Holding AG's Fansidar, then mefloquine.

Now Dondorp and other researchers say the same thing is happening to artemisinin. In a study carried out last year and yet to be published, artesunate failed to clear malaria parasites within two days from the blood of about 70 percent of patients in Pailin compared with 7 percent in western Thailand.

For now, the drugs still clear the parasites, only more slowly - a sign resistance to artemisinin-based treatments is building. While Novartis AG, GlaxoSmithKlinePLC, Genzyme Corp and Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd are developing new drugs and vaccines against malaria, those products are in the early stages of development and won't be available for years.

"If we lose the artemisinins at this stage, just now when we dare to mention the word 'eradication' again, it would be a disaster for malaria control," said Dondorp, who led the study. "It would cause millions of deaths, without exaggeration."

Fake pharmaceuticals abound in Pailin, but a bigger contributor to drug resistance than counterfeiters is patients who don't take medicines properly, according to WHO scientists.

Saron's mother, Bot Yom, has lost faith in Western pharmaceuticals. She plans to rub a coin against her son's skin until it becomes red. If the disease renders artemisinin-based drugs as useless as their predecessors, the folk remedy might be just as effective.

Cambodian Rice Encounters Problems Competing at International Markets because of Price Problems – Friday, 22.5.2009

Posted on 24 May 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 613

“Phnom Penh: The president of the National Rice Millers Association of Cambodia said that the market for Cambodia rice is facing a crisis competing with neighboring countries, because the price of rice from other countries is cheaper than that from Cambodia.

“The president of the National Rice Millers Association of Cambodia, Mr. Tes Etda, said on 20 May 2009 that so far, the price of Cambodian rice is much higher than that of neighboring countries, especially of Vietnam.

“He said, ‘At international markets, the price of rice from Vietnam is much better than that from Cambodia.’

“Thus far, the price of normal quality rice that Vietnam sells is only US$390 per tonne, while Cambodian companies cannot sell their rice unless the price is over US$440. This high price is not because of its higher quality. The different prices for sale of both countries are due to internal affairs of each country.

“Mr. Etda went on to say that rice with the same quality, but with different prices, is a significant obstacle for Cambodia on international markets. But this is because the prices of local products are always high, and to be able to export, there are many legal steps to follow, a lot of kickbacks have to be paid, and moreover, our exporters seem not to agree with each other.

“He emphasized, ‘If we cannot first lower the price, exports from Cambodia will have market problems in the future.’

“The fact that the export of rice from Cambodia is facing a crisis like this has some negative consequences for farmers who have asked for loans from different micro-finance institutions to improve their farming, regarding the repayment of loans to those institutions, while the price of their agricultural products declines continually as the export encounters problems.

“An association in Prek Kunlong village, Kompong Tralach commune, Kompong Chhnang, told Radio Free Asia on 19 May 2009 that in the association, many villagers face demands from staff of six or seven micro-finance institutions and private banks, who urge them to sell their property in order to repay the loan that they had asked for from those institutions to invest in agriculture, when, unfortunately, now they cannot sell their agricultural products, or the prices of their products drop.

“They said that last year a bag of fertilizer of 50 kg was below Riel 120,000 [approx. US$30] and a kilogram of paddy rice was sold for Riel 1,200 [approx. US$0.30], but this year, the chemical fertilizer is cheaper, only Riel 1,000 per bag, but the price of paddy rice is 40 to 50 percent cheaper than last year.

“Regarding this problem, the president of Cambodian Microfinance Association, Mr. Huot Eng Tong, told Rasmei Kampuchea by telephone in the evening of Wednesday that what they claimed is not true.

“He recognized that recently, customers of different micro-finance institutions in Cambodia are late in repaying, but their percentage is very small, and those institutions do not order their staff to demand money from villagers as it is said above. Moreover, among more than one million costumers of micro-finance institutions, only 20% ask for loans to invest in agriculture.

“He emphasized, ‘Out of 100 costumers, we receive late repayments from one or two costumers only.’”

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.17, #4900, 22.5.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Friday, 22 May 2009

Asia govts hold key to Aung San Suu Kyi release: France

A Myanmar activist holds a portrait of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi during protest outside the United Nations offices in Bangkok. Asian powers hold the key to persuading Myanmar's ruling junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, France's human rights minister has said ahead of key meetings in Asia this week.(AFP/Pornchai Kittiwongsakul)

PARIS (AFP) – Asian powers hold the key to persuading Myanmar's ruling junta to release opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, France's human rights minister said Sunday ahead of key meetings in Asia this week.

France and Europe have done everything that they can and it is now up to Asian governments to turn up the pressure on Yangon, said Rama Yade who is to meet with ministers from Myanmar's neighbours in Vietnam and Cambodia.

"It is obvious that the key is in Asia," Yade told TV5 Monde in an interview. "I fundamentally believe that our Asian partners can incite the junta to evolve."

Yade will represent France at the ASEM (Asia-Europe) ministerial meeting on Thursday in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi and the European Union meeting with the Association of South East Asian Nations Saturday in the Cambodian capital Phnom Pen.

The junior minister said she has asked to meet with Myanmar's foreign minister to discuss the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi, who went on trial this month for violating the terms of her house arrest.

"I will meet various Asian authorities who are the only ones capable of influencing the junta because we have done everything we can," said Yade.

EU nations have condemned the 63-year-old opposition leader's arrest and are considering tighter sanctions against the regime, but Myanmar's partners in ASEAN have not gone beyond expressing concern over the situation.

Aung San Suu Kyi pleaded innocent on Friday at the court in Yangon's Insein prison to the charges levelled against her after an American man swam to her lakeside home.

Yade described her arrest as a "pretext to throw her in prison and stage a mock trial" and accused the junta of seeking to exclude her from elections next year.

"If we were to lose her, it would be on our conscience," warned the minister.

The junta, headed by reclusive Senior General Than Shwe, has kept Aung San Suu Kyi in detention for a total of 13 years since 1990, when it refused to recognise her party's landslide victory in Myanmar's last elections.

Cambodia's Three Passengers Traveling with A/H1N1 Virus Patient Tested Negative

Web Editor: LiuDonghui

The three passengers who arrived in Phnom Penh on the same flight with a woman who was later confirmed to have A/H1N1, were tested negative, a health official said on Sunday.

Their samples sent to the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh for A/ H1N1 virus test turned out to be negative, according to the test results got later Saturday, Sok Touch, director of the epidemic disease department at the Ministry of Health, told the reporter by phone.

The three, all Cambodian-Americans, arrived in Phnom Penh from the United States via South Korea on May 17. A Vietnamese woman traveling with them on the same flight felt unwell and was hospitalized at the Incheon, South Korea, and later she was confirmed of the disease.

The Cambodian health authorities made efforts to seek for the three, and one of the old man was found in Battambang province while the two others, a father and his daughter, in Kampot province. The three passengers did not display influenza symptoms at the time of their arrival in Cambodia.

Sok Touch said Saturday that the Health Ministry has not taken isolation measures to them, but asked them to have a self- isolation, and not to visit relatives, neither to go to public places in the next seven days. Cambodia has no confirmed cases of Influenza A/H1N1 virus so far, according to Sok Touch.

Aso, Hun Sen offer condolences

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso on Saturday expressed surprise at the death of former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun and offered his condolences to the neighboring country.

"I was quite surprised," Aso told reporters after hearing about Roh's death, according to Jiji Press. "I would like to offer my condolences and pray for the repose of his soul," Aso said.

Yukio Hatoyama, head of the nation's main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, said in a statement: "I would like to give my sincere condolences to the bereaved family and Korean people."

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen also offered his condolences following the death of Roh who he said made large contributions to the improvement of ties between Korea and Southeast Asia.

"I don't know how to express my sadness. I express sincere, deep condolences," the prime minister told a group of South Korean reporters visiting here. "I didn't hear yet about the exact reason for his death, but I can't contain my sadness over the news."

He noted that Roh had given much aid and support to Cambodia during his presidency from 2003-2008, recalling Roh's visits to Phnom Penh and Siem Riep, home of the Angkor temple complex.

(From news reports)


Former Thaksin legal adviser: UAE won't extradite ex-PM

MCOT English News

BANGKOK, May 23 (TNA) - Noppadol Pattama, a former legal adviser to Thailand's fugitive, ousted former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, on Saturday said it was untrue that the ex-premier had asked the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to broker sending him to fight court cases in Thailand.

Mr. Noppadol said the Abhisit government is tryin to extradite Mr. Thaksin, and sent Deputy Commerce Minister Alongkorn Ponlaboot to convince the UAE to not shelter the fugitive.

But the UAE is a sovereign government, and Thailand must respect its decision.

The UAE “realises that Mr. Thaksin was topped from power in a military coup which is against democratic principles,” Mr. Noppadol said.

Ousted in a coup in September 2006, Mr. Thaksin lives in self-imposed exile, believed to be in the UAE.

The ex-PM Thaksin was convicted and sentenced to two years jail in absentia for manipulative involvement in a Ratchadapisek land deal conducted by his then wife.

The ex-premier is said to have spent most of his exile in Dubai after his visa was revoked by Britain.

Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had revoked both his diplomatic and ordinary passports in an attempt to capture him.

Puea Thai MP Chalerm Yoobamrung, a recent visitor to Dubai, said the fugitive ex-PM has six to eight foreign passports. (TNA)

Thaksin exploiting UAE, Foreign Ministry says

Bangkok Post
Published: 24/05/2009

The Office of the Attorney-General yesterday called on the Foreign Ministry to remind the United Arab Emirates that ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra was exploiting the country for his own political ends. The fugitive ex-premier was using the UAE as a political base, said Sirisak Tiyaphan, executive director for foreign litigation at the OAG.

Puea Thai party-list MP Chalerm Yubamrung has told the media he had visited Thaksin in Dubai for consultations as the party was looking for a new leader, he said.

This goes to show that Thaksin had violated UAE's terms and conditions for abode which do not allow him to use the Gulf nation to pursue any political activities, said Mr Sirisak.

Thailand is trying to sign an extradition treaty with Hong Kong, a country which Thaksin was frequently visiting after fleeing Thailand to escape a jail sentence last year.

Mr Sirisak said the OAG and the ministry were planning to send officials to Hong Kong to conduct another round of negotiations on the issue. After learning about the planned treaty with Hong Kong, Thaksin decided not to enter the former British colony to avoid causing diplomatic problems between Thailand and China, which rules Hong Kong.

US Chevron Company Wants to Suspend Oil Exploration at the Khmer Sea Bottom because of the Global Economic Crisis – Thursday, 21.5.2009

Posted on 24 May 2009
The Mirror, Vol. 13, No. 613

“The global financial crisis affects the exploration of oil and other natural deposits at the Cambodian sea bottom, and this serious crisis causes the US biggest oil company to encounter difficulties for the exploration and exploitation of oil in Block “A” and to demand the Khmer government to sign a deal to postpone the exploration license at an area of the sea 150 km from the Sihanoukville port.

“Chevron’s Asia-Pacific media adviser based in Singapore, Mr. Gareth Johnstone, said that negotiations should be continued, even though the previous deal expired in April. He added that Chevron’s deal has not yet been concluded because of the economic crisis which is affecting the oil exploration in Block “A.” But he said that Chevron is discussing with the Khmer government to postpone the license deal for Block “A.”

“The chairperson of the National Assembly’s Commission on Economy, Finance, Banking and Audit, Cheam Yeap, said that the US oil exploration company Chevron is conducting exploration on six drilling sites in Block “A” within an area of 278 km2 located in the Gulf of Thailand in the Khmer sea territory. The economic crisis causes the oil exploration to be suspend for a short period only, and things will turn to be normal soon.

“The vice president of Chevron International Exploration and Production South Asia, Mr. Joe Geagea, told a newspaper in Bangkok that a license has not been given. But Cambodia and Chevron still maintain the hope that resources extracted from the Cambodian sea bottom will be brought to the market, though the oil price is low at present and the economy is declining.

“Mr. Joe Geagea said, ‘The problem is: What can be done in order to benefit us [Chevron] and Cambodia. Therefore, we want to continue negotiating with Cambodia.’

“Before, Chevron had said that the declining oil price is the reason that motivates US based Chevron to consider suspending drilling and oil exploration in Block “A” until the market of oil improves again. But so far, the oil market has not recovered so that Chevron could continue its activities at the Khmer sea. Another problem is that there is not yet a tax agreement with the Khmer government over the income from oil if the exploitation succeeds.

“It should be noted that regarding the signing of any agreements of private companies or of foreign investors, they have to pay the government millions of dollars for new licenses or to prolong expired licenses. Therefore, there have to be intensive negotiations to request new licenses.

“Mr. Gareth Johnstone said, ‘Because of commercial reasons and of the contract agreements, we cannot give any information about the discussions.’

“Cheam Yeap tries to conceal any problem which might block the process of the oil and natural gas exploration at the Khmer sea bottom. He said that he plans to ask the government to draft three laws relative to energy resources of the Kingdom of Cambodia, like the monitoring of oil, oil taxes, and the benefits of the energy sector, as an effort to better organize the use of national resources.

“Cheam Yeap added that the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative based in London is invited to Cambodia to hold four workshops aiming to share experiences in organizing energy resources.

“Mr. Cheam Yeap said, ‘We want Cambodia to be blessed by its oil resources and not to be cursed by its oil resources like Nigeria, Chad, Venezuela, Panama, and some African countries which were poor before, and after they found oil they are still poor after they gained some benefits from natural oil.’ Cambodia still hopes that oil can be extracted from its sea bottom starting between 2011 and 2013.

“Cheam Yeap boasted that besides Chevron of the United States, there are also companies from other countries that are interested in the natural oil treasures of Cambodia, like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Indonesia, and other neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. Cheam Yeap admitted that there are some obstacles for the oil exploration at the Cambodian sea bottom, because the sea border has not been demarcated at disputed areas with Siam [Thailand].

“At present, Cambodia has already given licenses for 37,000 km2 of its sea territory, and the remaining area of 27,000 km2 is disputed with Siam [Thailand].

“It should be noted also that Chevron has already paid US$20 million to the Khmer government in exchange for the license for oil and natural gas exploration in Block “A,” the block with the most oil deposit. But this US$200,000 license [above, it said US$20 million] expired in April. Therefore, Chevron has to negotiate with the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority, with Deputy Prime Minister Sok An as the president and Te Duong Dara as the secretary general, in order to continue to get an exploration license in Block “A.”

“On Wednesday, it was not known yet whether the Hun Sen government, notorious for corruption by receiving kickbacks, requires Chevron to pay additional tax so that it can continue its license to explore oil in Block “A.” But the government seemed to be not much interested with this and just demanded Chevron to negotiate again. The negotiations simply focused on paying money to request a new license, which made Chevron release some information, which surprised journalists in Bangkok.”

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.16, #3763, 21.5.2009
Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 21 May 2009

UN study advises caution over dams

AP foreign, Saturday May 23 2009 MICHAEL CASEY

AP Environmental Writer= BANGKOK (AP) — A dam-building spree in China poses the greatest threat to the future of the already beleaguered Mekong, one of the world's major rivers and a key source of water for the region, a U.N. report said Thursday.

China is constructing a series of eight dams on the upper half of the Mekong as it passes through high gorges of Yunnan Province, including the recently completed Xiowan Dam, which — at 958 feet (292 meters) high — is the world's tallest. Its storage capacity is equal to all the Southeast Asia reservoirs combined, the U.N. report said.

Laos, meanwhile, has started construction on 23 dams expected to be finished by 2010 on the Mekong and its tributaries, the U.N. said, as a means to spur development and lift the country from poverty. Cambodia and Vietnam also have ambitious dam-building plans.

"China's extremely ambitious plan to build a massive cascade of eight dams on the upper half of the Mekong River, as it tumbles through the high gorges of Yunnan Province, may pose the single greatest threat to the river," the report said.

The report went onto to say that the impacts of the proposed dam development include "changes in river flow volume and timing, water quality deterioration and loss of biodiversity."

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a regular briefing the government pays equal attention to the development of the Mekong and its protection. The Mekong is known as the Lancang river in China.

"I would like to point out that the Chinese government attaches great importance to the exploration and the protection of cross-border rivers and conducts the policy of equal attention to development and protection," Ma said.

The proposed dams would add further pressure to the Mekong, which runs through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The 307,000-square-mile (795,000-square-kilometer) river network is home to dozens of rare bird and marine species, including the Mekong giant catfish, and is a source of food and jobs for the 65 million people who live in the river basin.

The river and its vast tributary network already face threats from pollution, climate change and the effects of earlier dams that were built in China and have caused water levels to drop sharply on the upper Mekong.

Still, the U.N. report said for the time being, the Mekong's pollution levels were not at "alarming levels" while water shortages and conflicts over water on the Mekong have so far not emerged.

"The Mekong is in good condition at this time and can take more pressure such as irrigation development or industrial development," said Mukand S. Babel, one of the reports' authors.

The report, however, found several river basins in the Mekong that are under threat, including the Tonle Sap in Cambodia, Nam Khan in Laos and Sekong-Sesan Srepok in Vietnam and Cambodia due to increasing development and demand for water.

It called for countries bordering the Mekong to work more closely together to ensure that the region's growing population and expected economic development doesn't further strain the capacity of the delta.

"The time to tackle these challenges is now, otherwise the projected growth and development may impact on the basin's ability to meet future water needs," said Young-Woo Park, a U.N. regional director.

The world is a classroom for Brown medical student from North Providence

Providence Journal

Saturday, May 23, 2009

By Richard C. Dujardin
Journal Staff Writer

PROVIDENCE –– Along with many receiving diplomas this graduation season, Mark Brady has his sights on making a difference in the world.

But Brady, who took a year off from his studies at Brown University’s medical school a while back to get a master’s degree in public health from Harvard, and who is set to receive both a master’s and a medical degree from Brown this Sunday, sees that difference more in terms of improving the lives of millions of people, not just a few.

After graduating from Providence College seven years ago, Brady not only did some personal things, such as hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, but also went twice to Cambodia, where he volunteered for six months at a hospital for children and taught courses in statistics to doctors.

His pursuits also brought him to Thailand, where he and a doctor studying at Brown addressed an international conference on HIV/AIDS, to South Africa, where he and a professor researched what patients themselves had to say about how best to allocate anti-AIDS medicines, and to Peru and Bolivia, to study better ways to diagnose tuberculosis and combat Chagas disease.

And he did all that while working toward three degrees from Harvard and Brown.

Maybe because his mother, Alice Brady, has long been an elementary school nurse in his hometown of North Providence, Brady, 29, has always had a deep interest in medicine. It’s one reason, he says, that he majored in biology at PC.

But after finishing up at the school in 2002, Brady saw a need to take a year off to travel. Cambodia seemed like a good place to start, since he had once taken a course on Cambodian history and knew a Rhode Islander who directs a children’s hospital there.

Besides, he explained in a recent interview, “Cambodia is as far away from Rhode Island as you can get. I always wanted to work in the developing world. It was one of the reasons I wanted to go into medicine.”

It turned into a worthwhile trip, turning his interest in working in the developing world into a passion.

“I realized I could make a disproportionate impact working overseas.”

For instance, even though he had only minored in math, he discovered that the physicians in Cambodia knew less than he did when it came to that subject, and he was able to help by teaching a course in statistics.

He also went on to create a computer server to help the hospital store all of its medical records, the first of its kind in the country.

But it was the overall experience that convinced Brady he should concentrate on emergency medicine — since it’s one specialty needed in hospitals all over the world.

In working toward both a medical degree and a master’s degree in medical science from Brown, Brady did orthopedic research into knee construction and “dabbled” in a number of other projects, including research in the treatment of HIV-infected children.

On his way back to Cambodia the following summer, Brady and the doctor went to the international AIDS conference in Bangkok, where they presented evidence that anti-HIV/AIDS drugs can be as effective in treating children in “resource-poor” areas such as Cambodia as in wealthier nations, provided they are administered in a timely and consistent fashion.

While cost of the HIV drugs has sometimes been seen as a deterrent to treatment, Brady said two-tier pricing by the drug companies, and the presence of less costly generic drugs made in Brazil, India and Thailand, has reduced the problem. But even more important, Brady believes, is having someone go to children’s homes every day to make sure they don’t forget to take their medicine.

Brady had already been going to Brown for three years before deciding to take a year off and attend Harvard University on a scholarship to get a master’s in public health. There, he did “a lot of number crunching” and traveled to South Africa with a professor from Harvard to try to figure out whether to spend more money on first-line anti-HIV/AIDS medicines for as many as possible, or to hold back some money in order to buy more expensive drugs for those for whom the first-line drugs don’t work.

The two decided that one way to solve the quandary was to ask AIDS patients themselves. The answer came back loud and clear — the patients felt it more important to provide the front-line drugs across the board. “Even though many of the patients aren’t literate, we shouldn’t just assume that we know better what they want.”

Before returning to Brown, Brady also went to Peru under a grant from the National Institutes of Health to research ways to diagnose tuberculosis and, in Bolivia, to combat Chagas disease, which is caused by parasites.

“I really do want to go into epidemiology because there is that opportunity to help millions of people,” Brady said while preparing for his residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital, with an emphasis on emergency medicine, which begins a week after graduation.

Cambodia finds three passengers traveling with A/H1N1 virus patient

PHNOM PENH, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian health authorities have found the three passengers who arrived here on the same flight with a woman who was later confirmed to have A/H1N1 virus, a health official here said on Saturday.
The three, all Cambodian-Americans, were found Friday, and one of the old man now stays in Battambang province while the two others, a father and his daughter, in Kampot province, according to Sok Touch, director of the epidemic disease department at the Ministry of Health.
"We have got their samples and sent to the Pasteur Institute in Phnom Penh for testing A/H1N1 virus. The results would be available later today," he told reporters, adding that "the three's health are normal with no influenza symptoms now."
Sok Touch said that the Health Ministry has not took isolation measure to them, but asked them to have a self-isolation, and not to visit relatives as well as go to the public places in the next seven days.
The three arrived in Phnom Penh from the United States via South Korean on May 17. A Vietnamese woman traveled with them on the same flight feel unwell and hospitalized at Incheon, South Korea, and later she was confirmed of the disease.

Editor: Xiong Tong

California sex offender faces new charges in Cambodia

The Cambrian
Formerly a patient at Atascadero State Hospital, he is suspected of molesting four young boys

Sam Stanton - The Sacramento Bee

Jack Louis Sporich was living an idyllic retirement, splitting his time between a luxury condo in Sedona, Ariz., and a sprawling home he was having built in a tourist mecca in Cambodia.

The 74-year-old retired engineer appeared to have escaped his past, which included his classification as one of California’s most dangerous sex offenders, one who authorities suspect may have molested more than 500 young boys over the years.

Now, officials say Sporich, who won his release from Atascadero State Hospital in May 2004 without spending a single day in treatment, may have reoffended.

He has been charged in Cambodia with indecent acts against minors in a case involving four young Cambodian boys, according to an official in Phnom Penh whose organization helped investigate Sporich.

Cambodian news accounts of his arrest indicate Sporich denied the allegations, which included the claim he lured the children — ages 9 to 13 — to his home with toys and candies. The Cambodia Daily reported he also attracted youngsters by dropping dollar bills in the street.

He was arrested Feb. 2 and remains in custody in the tourist town of Siem Reap, according to Seila Samleang, executive director of Action Pour Les Enfants-Cambodia.

APLE-Cambodia is a nongovernmental organization that works closely with Cambodian police to target foreign pedophiles who exploit youngsters in that country, and Sporich had been under investigation by the group.

Samleang said in an e-mail to The Sacramento Bee the charges are misdemeanors punishable by a prison sentence of one to three years.

Sexual exploitation of children has been a problem in Cambodia for years, where the age of consent is 15.

Todd Melnik, the defense attorney who won Sporich’s release from Atascadero, said he knew nothing of the Cambodia charges. An e-mail to Sporich this week seeking comment did not receive a response.

Troubling history

Sporich is no stranger to charges of sex with kids.

He spent nine years in prison after his conviction in Ventura County on seven counts of lewd acts upon children under 14. Then, he was committed to Atascadero State Hospital as a “sexually violent predator” deemed too dangerous to be released upon completion of his sentence.

David Lehr, a Ventura County defense attorney who originally prosecuted Sporich, said he may have had as many as 500 victims, and he typically befriended boys through their parents and offered to take them on camping trips.

The parents frequently would pay Sporich for gas and the time he spent on the trips, Lehr said last week.

“If I had to pick from a list of former and current SVPs, he would be, by far, the first one I would be most concerned about,” Lehr said in an interview for a 2006 series of stories in The Sacramento Bee about sexually violent predators.

Sporich was released from Atascadero in May 2004, after two juries were unable to agree on whether he would reoffend, and he immediately moved to Arizona, where the only requirement he faced was that he register as a sex offender once a year.

He is not listed on the current sex offender registry maintained by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.

Sporich’s case was highlighted in The Sacramento Bee’s series, which revealed it was far easier for offenders to win release from Atascadero by refusing treatment than by undergoing the lengthy treatment program designed to prevent them from reoffending.

After The Sacramento Bee’s series, lawmakers introduced a number of proposed improvements to the system and voters later that year overwhelmingly approved Proposition 83.

That measure increased prison sentences for habitual and violent offenders and did away with the requirement that sexually violent predators be allowed a trial every two years. Instead, they now can petition annually for a hearing, but the burden of proof is on them to convince a court they no longer pose a threat.

Thai intelligence probes new Cambodian army unit in Poipet

MCOT English News

SA KAEO, May 23 (TNA) - Thai intelligence officres are investigating reports that some 200 Cambodian soldiers have moved to Poipet on the Thai-Cambodian border some two kilometres from the border crossing and casinos at the frontier.

A former Cambodian soldier, now a trader in Poipet, opposite the key Thai border district of Aranyaprathet, said some 200 fully armed Cambodian soldiers had moved to Poipet and built tents behind the airport since Tuesday.

The Cambodian soldiers visit Poipet market areas at night, causing fear among local Cambodians that fresh fighting with Thailand could erupt after the Thai government had kept silent regarding the Cambodian demand for over US$2 million compensation for damage allegedly caused by heavy Thai army gunfire during the April 3 border clash near the ancient Preah Vihear temple, affecting some 300 Cambodian households.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry earlier sent a diplomatic note to Thailand, asking for the compensation. It said that Thai artillery had destroyed 264 market stalls in front of Preah Vihear temple, affecting 319 Cambodian households.

However, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reaffirmed that the area in question belongs to Thailand.

Cambodian intelligence reports said that army unit was assigned had come into the area as a senior military commander planned to visit there in order to map out a new military restructuring plan.

Thai military intelligence is assessing the movements of the Cambodian unit, claiming that the practice violates an agreement made between the two countries barring additional troops of either country from being posted to areas adjacent to the border. (TNA)