Four people have been hospitalized and are in critical condition after drinking adulterated homemade alcohol known as Ubushera (Sorghum beer) in Gasabo, over the weekend.
The executive secretary of Jali Sector in Gasabo district, Déo Rugabirwa, explained that the majority of the victims were members of the same family who drank the alcohol in this settlement of Kigali city.
According to eyewitnesses, all those who fell sick complained of severe stomach pain, loose bowel movements, vomiting and other food poisoning symptoms.
“For the time being, four people are hospitalized and the alcohol has been sent to the laboratory to determine its content and urine and blood samples of the victims will also be analysed,” Rugabirwa said.
In many rural settlements across Rwanda, poisoning by spurious homemade alcohol is quite common as it is much cheaper than branded alcohol.
In August 2018, 260 People in Gicumbi District, Northern Rwanda, were affected by homemade sorghum beer, a typical Rwandan beverage that is easy to make.
Rwandan officials have always warned people not to consume “suspicious” beverages.
The World Health Organization stresses that a trace amount of methanol is common in fermented drinks. However, if ingested in large quantities, methanol can cause blindness, liver damage and death.
Symptoms of methanol poisoning may not appear immediately, which include acute abdominal pain, acute headache and lack of coordination of body movements, the UN agency said.