Blogger adamant that papaya leaf can fight dengue - But medical specialist says more research needed
Last year, Kamla Forbes went into panic mode when her three children were admitted to hospital with dengue.
A friend, who is a doctor, introduced her to the papaya leaf juice that changed everything for the family.
Since then, she has been on a campaign to get people the juice to heal their children of the deadly virus.
"She (the doctor) told me how to make it and so I made it and gave it to my daughter. That was the Thursday, and by Friday, her platelets were up," she said.
Forbes then gave it to her other children, and believes that if it was not for the juice, her eldest child would not be here.
"Nobody can't tell mi seh if he didn't get it, he wouldn't die because he has bad asthma. I have been on a campaign about dengue since my kids had it. I told people about the papaya juice, via word of mouth, but then I realised that I operate a blog, and every day I am posting these dead children. So I realised that ... I need to use my platform to push it more," she said.
Forbes, who has been making the juices herself, has been going to hospitals in the Corporate Area, distributing the product for free.
"I source the leaves and blend them with cold water. Once people contact me, I get it and give it to them ... and we have been saving lives. I am going to continue to do this until I stop hearing about children dying from dengue every day," she said. "Most of the people who I help they call me back and say 'my child is back home. Thank you so much'. It's overwhelming. I don't just give it to children, I give it to anyone who has dengue."
She told THE STAR that doctors have been dismissive of the juice, and discourage parents from giving it to their children.
She believes that the Health Ministry should focus more on managing the virus and less on eradicating the breeding sites.
"They will never be able to do that (eradication) because of the landscape, the topography, the fact that we have gullies and rivers. It has to be about how you manage it. If it is always here, they have to move from eradication to how they manage the virus, so they can decrease the mortality rate," she said.
When THE STAR contacted Dr Janice Simmonds Fisher, integrated medical specialist, she said that there is not much local research done on the papaya leaf, therefore doctors would not recommend its use.
Simmonds Fisher, who has studied plant products and their medicinal qualities, said that she knew about the advantages of the papaya leaf, but the ministry has its own standards and guidelines to govern how these matters are handled.
"We have what we call the standard of care, so we have to go through formal research. It is up to myself or other researchers from the university and the Scientific Research Council who would want to do further research to present a viable product," she said.
"The (Health) ministry has to be considerate for the elderly, the children, persons who are on multiple medications. Dosage needs to be safe. I think if someone came up with a viable product and it is tested, then they would not have any problem putting it on the shelf. Testing has to be done."