The rash of fatalities attributed to artisanally-concocted liquor, known as “cleren”, has moved the Ministry of Public Health to call on the population to immediately seek medical assistance if they are suffering from a strong hangover as the result of ingesting this home-brewed alcoholic potion. In fact, the Ministry has issued an Epidemiological Alert after at least three dozen persons have suffered serious effects and – at last count – 16 people have died.
The clandestinely-made beverage is sold in colmados in low income neighborhoods nationwide. The Ministry of Public Health has intensified its efforts to publicize its concerns, especially among those residents along the border with Haiti. They urge the people to abstain from consuming this homemade alcoholic beverage.
Dr. Hector Guerrero, the regional health director, indicated that as of 25 December 2017, at the regional teaching hospital in southwestern San Juan de la Maguana there was one person hospitalized for cleren intoxication who had been erroneously diagnosed as alcoholic intoxication.
Poorly made cleren can contain a high concentration of methanol because of the distillation of some woods used as raw material or as aroma agents or even the adding of solvents with a high content of methanol as a substitute for ethanol.
The Ministry notes that an early diagnosis and rapid intervention are important in order to avoid neurological consequences, blindness and death.
There are few controls by regulators on the sale of the clandestine beverages. El Caribe reporters determined that cleren is sold in the same way as rice in National District colmados. El Nacional reporters said it is often served during wakes in low-income neighborhoods and villages.
27 December 2017