By Stephen Wandera
KAMPALA – Some corrupt traders have taken advantage of increase of COVID to sell poisonous wild fruits as immune booster. Uganda has lost about 400 people due to the pandemic with 49 deaths in a single day (Wednesday, June, 17th 2021).
There is no cure for the disease yet but scientists recommend consumption of greens and fruits to boost immunity system. Lemon, tamarind, pineapples, bananas, water melon, oranges and mangoes are the most recommended fruits while greens include cabbage and spinach among others.
The wild fruit eaten by monkeys is similar to lemon now regarded as one of the most effective in treating cough and the scarcest on the market. Price for a small size lemon range from Shs500 to 1000 on retail market.
In the past, Ebola outbreak, one of the killer diseases originated from eastern DR Congo. Scientists have linked it to human being contact with monkeys. Congolese eat monkeys and is regarded as a delicacy.
Whereas demand for lemon is up, the supply has dwindled that has left a gap for unscrupulous speculators.
In a spot visit to Nakasero Market Thursday June 17, 2021, traders confirmed the trade but assured the public of precaution measures they have put in place to weed out the fake traders.
“There are traders who have started supplying us with wild fruits similar to lemon. These fruits have no juice; they are a delicacy for monkeys. It is unfortunate for some of our members to take advantage of the sick to make ‘blood’ money,” Denis Kawalya told East African Vanguard. Adding, “Each of us is now a watchdog of his or her neighbor. If you are got, your merchandise is confiscated, destroyed and expelled from the market.”
Madina Nakito, another trader decried the act saying it is inhuman. “We all need money, first think of someone’ life first, supposing it was you, your child, mother, father, sister or brother who bought and eat such a hazardous wild fruit resulting into death, how would you feel?” she said.
Dr Chris Mubiru, a nutrition expert describes the ‘monkey lemon’ as poisons that can cause death and urged consumers to be on high alert.
Dr Grace Nambaya, an expert in herbal medicine warned the public against self-medication.
“If not guided by a health worker with expertise, a patient can take over dose that can damage internal organs like the liver and kidney,” she said.