Of Kangen water, “stupid” writers and sound medical advice
Let me tell you a little story. In this line of business, receiving angry phone calls from people, whether they are high-ranking public officials, business people or any other member of the public, is not unusual.
It comes with the territory and after several years in the trade, you become used to dealing with it. You take it on the chin, sometimes you laugh, and sometimes you cry but you do what needs to be done.
But some calls demand serious scrutiny. On Friday morning, one such phone call came through. He was an angry man, yelling from the other side of the line.
“Don’t you know who I am,” he demanded. “No I don’t. Who’s this?” I asked.
It turns out the caller is someone who has been making a lot of headlines lately.
He was none other than Fritz Alai’asa who was the subject of a story titled “Man offering Kangen treatment declines to defend his methods” published on page 3 of the Samoa Observer. The Samoa Observer story was only one of several stories in the media where his methods of healing are raised.
“I’m going to sue your newspaper. I’m going to get my lawyer to write to your newspaper…” he continued.
The man just wouldn’t let up. As if threatening the newspaper was not enough, he then turned on the writer.
“You are so stupid. You are like a fool (loafing the streets),” he said before he hung up.
In any case, being called all sorts of names is nothing new for the writer so he was more than welcome to join the club.
But why was he so upset? Well it turns out that the day before, a reporter from this newspaper, Sapeer Mayron, had gone to his residence, asking about the water he is offering throngs of families who continue to crowd there, amidst the measles epidemic.
When Ms. Mayron and her photographer Misiona Simo arrived, they were greeted by a security guard at the entrance of his property. Asked to explain his offering of the water as treatment, Mr. Alai’asa refused and ordered the reporter off his property. He said a previous article referring to Kangen water and his practices was “wrong news.” He wouldn’t elaborate.
The article in question was published two Fridays ago under the title “Alternative cures' driving measles danger.” The story was quite clear where the Director General of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, cautioned members of the public against seeking alternative treatments to measles.
“I am not sure whether it is a business or they are genuine in offering assistance but so far, there is no scientific evidence that any of these so called cures being spread online works on the measles virus,” Leausa said.
As a fair newspaper, Ms. Mayron’s visit was an opportunity for Mr. Alai’asa to tell us his side of the story. This is what newspapers – or any serious media organisations – do. If he’s not a doctor, a qualified measles expert, a faith-based healer, taulasea, what is he? And what is he doing? We wanted him to tell us.
Ladies and gentlemen, at the height of the measles epidemic, the message from the Government – which is also endorsed by this publication – is for everyone to get vaccinated and be seen by qualified medical professionals.
This is a crisis. Twenty-two people have died already and it is very likely that more people will die. We cannot afford to allow people to do whatever they want.
When people are desperate, they become vulnerable. Parents will do anything to help their children. Mr. Alai’asa and anyone else offering whatever treatment must be scrutinised, checked out and have their treatments medically and scientifically approved.
Anything less should not be accepted or trusted. Beside, the message from the Office of the Attorney General for the past few days, which is again highlighted in the newspaper you are reading today, is crystal clear.
Have another read: “All State of Emergency Orders issued at this time by the Cabinet with Head of State approval, are legally binding on the community during a declared state of emergency. The specific order therefore to vaccinate is compulsory, and is to be complied with.
“Any person that actively discourages or prevents in any way members of the community from receiving their vaccination injection, is hereby warned, to cease immediately, and is similarly warned not to take any further action of that kind.”
Now where does Mr. Alai’asa fit in all this? Does he even have a license to operate what he is doing? And why was he so mad that he would just insult, issue veiled threats and call us names when all we wanted was for him to tell us his side of the story?
The truth is we don’t know.
What we do know is that in yesterday’s Samoa Observer, the Compliance Officer at the Japanese company that makes Kangen water, Joanne Badman, was very clear.
"Kangen water should never, ever be used in place of medicine," she said, advising parents of children with measles to "listen to the doctors." "We are not doctors, the people who own our machines are not doctors. We don't want anyone potentially misleading people.
"If you have got a sick child you're obviously going to be really worried, and we suggest people go to a doctor and get medical help."
Well there you have it. Those are not our words. Those came directly from the people who make Kangen water themselves. Perhaps this is why Mr. Alai’asa was angry. Who knows?
Today, we live in a country where confusion continues to reign amidst the tragedy and the state of panic brought about by the measles crisis. This is not unusual in situations like this. But let’s not allow people like Mr. Alai’asa and many other self proclaimed Google doctors to add to the confusion, therefore increasing the risk to people’s lives.
What do you think? Have a peaceful Sunday Samoa, God bless!