UNICEF decries sale of Cambodian breast milk to US mothers

UNICEF on Wednesday condemned a company selling breast milk from “vulnerable and poor” Cambodian mothers to Americans, hitting out at the commercialisation of nutrients needed by babies inside the kingdom.

The issue emerged this week after Cambodia said it had halted exports from Utah-based company Ambrosia Labs, which claims to be the first of its kind to bank human breast milk sourced overseas and export it into the United States.

The firm’s customers are American mothers who want to supplement their babies’ diets or cannot supply enough of their own milk.

Those donating their breast milk hailed from poor communities in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, where the scheme helped families top up meagre incomes.

On Monday Cambodia’s customs department said it had stopped exports temporarily “because the product comes from a human organ” adding the government planned to hold talks on whether to let the trade continue.

UNICEF — the arm of the UN protecting children — said excess breast milk should remain in Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries, where many babies lack good nutrients.
“Breast milk banks should never be operated by exploiting vulnerable and poor women for profit and commercial purposes,” Iman Morooka, the agency spokeswoman in Cambodia, told AFP.

“Breast milk could be considered as human tissue, the same as blood, and as such its commercialisation should be banned,” she said.

Malnutrition “remains a threat to children’s wellbeing in Cambodia, and proper breastfeeding is one of the key factors contributing to a child’s good health and nutrition”, she added.

Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng declined to comment on the issue when contacted by AFP on Wednesday.

Ambrosia Labs did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

In previous press interviews the firm said its model encouraged Cambodian women to continue breast feeding, earned them much needed extra income and helped plug milk bank shortages in the US.

AFP visited the offices of Ambrosia Labs last week in Stung Meanchey, a poor suburb of Phnom Penh.

The office, which is labelled Khun Meada (mother’s gratitude), was closed and women who sold their milk said they had been told operations were suspended.

Chea Sam, a 30-year-old mother, told AFP during an interview last week that she had been selling her breast milk for the last three months following the birth of her son.

She said she earned $7.5-$10 a day and she knew at least 20 other mothers doing the same.

In videos posted on the Facebook page of Khun Meada, several mothers appealed to the government to let them sell their milk to the company.

 

Source: AFP

Nine Nigerian men accused of dealing drugs from Mountain of Fire church in Cambodia sentenced to 5 to 8 years in prison

Nine Nigerian nationals, including their ringleader still at large, and a Cambodian woman were sentenced to five to eight years in prison and fined a total of 126 million riel ($30,663) for drug trafficking at Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday, September 12th. 
Nine out of the 10 accused were arrested on January 8, after being found in possession of nearly a kilogram of methamphetamine powder that was intended for sale around Phnom Penh. Their ringleader, Obieze Kennth Uche, also known as John remains at large. The convicts include, Tony Chukwuonye, two brothers, Okorom Favour and Okorom Kizito Chinedu, Francis Nnamdi, Simon Maduka Ukandu, Sunday Nwabuisi, Nna Mezie Victor, Izuchukwu Chukwuma.

“The court is ordering the arrest of Obieze Kenneth Uche,” Judge Khy Chai said. “After the verdict comes into effect, all nine foreigners, after serving their jail terms, have to be deported out of Cambodia and prevented from entering Cambodia for the next five years.”

On the last day of the trial, it was revealed that only two out of the 15 samples collected tested positive for meth, with 4 and 5 percent purity, respectively.
In the same hearing, Cambodian national Morm Vonyong, 25, admitted to delivering drugs to customers several times in exchange for $100. Her attorney, Lay Longdy, said he will be appealing the verdict.

 

Cambodian Doctor Jailed For 25 Years For Infecting 300 People With HIV

A Cambodian court has convicted an unlicensed medical practitioner of murder and sentenced him to 25 years in prison for spreading HIV among almost 300 villagers.

A spokesman for the court in the northwestern province of Battambang said Yem Chrin, 56, was found guilty on Thursday of torture and cruel behaviour resulting in death, intentionally spreading HIV and practising medicine without a licence.

Ten of the villagers have died since the outbreak began.

Authorities detected an epidemic of human immunodeficiency virus, the virus that causes AIDS, on December 9 when they started testing a community in Battambang. The victims ranged from a two-year-old to elderly in their 80s.

It first started after a 74-year-old man tested positive for HIV in November. The man convinced others in the village who had also visited Yem Chrin to also get tested.

The court found Yem Chrin guilty of operating health treatment without license, injecting people with syringes that spread HIV and torturing people to die.

Yem Chrin admitted to routinely reusing syringes but denied intentionally spreading the virus.

He was arrested in December last year and taken into protective custody, with the authorities fearing he might be lynched by residents of Roka village

Police said Yem Chrin was a well-respected doctor who villagers believed had healing powers and who provided cheap treatment for the poor.

Angelina Jolie Visits Cambodia With Son She Adopted There

The Hollywood actress and UN ambassador visited Cambodia today …she’s seen above meeting Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the country’s state house. Angelina met with Sen to discuss her latest project – a film about the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, which will feature her 14 year old son Maddox who she adopted from the country 13 years ago. More photos below…

Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images