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CSU 88/2011: ALCOHOL ABUSE AND CONTROL IN AFRICA AND GLOBALLY

Sunday, 13th of March 2011 Print

 

‘Alcohol abuse and control in Africa and globally’ gives a country by country rundown of best estimates on the frequency of alcohol abuse in different countries and regions of the world.

What does this have to do with child health? First, fetal alcohol syndrome. Second, the effects on all passengers of driving while under the influence. Again, governments are slow to recognize the problem, and slower to act against it.

This country by country review for the 46 member states of WHO/AFRO, available online at   http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/global_alcohol_report/msbgsrafr.pdf
gives percentage estimates of the prevalence of alcohol related orders and, for some countries, figures on the incidence of cirrhosis, a good indicator of the results of alcohol abuse.
For a global view, with accompanying text from the editors of  The Economist,  go to
http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/02/daily_chart_global_alcohol_consumption&fsrc=nwl

Countries with Muslim majorities  have reported morbidity figures generally below the regional average. Prosperity, sadly, is associated with higher rates of abuse, as the examples of Gabon, Seychelles, and South Africa  (with an estimated 3.64 percent prevalence of alcohol related morbidity among males>15) demonstrate.

The African regional figures form part of a larger global report, which is available online at http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/global_alcohol_report/msbgsruprofiles.pdf

For urban populations and developed countries, the readiest solution to alcohol abuse is to raise excise taxes. Where alcohol is primarily a village product, governments must find other solutions.

From the conclusions of the global report:

‘Since WHO first began in 1999 to report on policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, at least 34 countries have adopted formal policies. Statutory restrictions on alcohol marketing have increased signifi cantly, and so has the use of random breath testing on roadways to prevent drink–driving. Regarding minimum drinking age laws and controls on distribution, no clear trends exist, with countries apparently experimenting with both leniency and restrictiveness. The large number of countries, representing a high percentage of the global population, where only weak or uneven alcohol policies exist underscores the persistent need for continued progress in the prevention of the harm done from alcohol consumption.’
 
As automobile ownership rises steeply in such emerging countries as China and India, one has to wonder what measures national leaders may take to prevent a rise in alcohol related road accidents. Is this an item already on their national agendas? Can it be placed on their national agendas by wider dissemination of the WHO data?
 

Good reading.

BD



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