In 2004 Uganda was described by the WHO as number one consumer of Alcohol, mainly brewed in homes as local gin/spirit.
Death arising out of alcohol poisoning is appearing to be a common problem not only in Uganda but also in the whole of East Africa; Kenya too has had its own share of death arising out of drinking adulterated Alcohol. Anyone can make and sell alcohol anywhere given the abundance of many agricultural products which provide carbohydrates as a main ingredient. The artisanal production of alcohol and the failure by government to regulate its production and sale has come with a huge cost. The alcohol industry has been celebrating the inaction of lack of control to amass profits in double digit figures.
A study was undertaken by UYDEL a non-governmental agency to establish the levels of alcohol especially the spirits in 2009 packed by the alcohol industry;
Surprisingly the maximum permissible levels of methanol (of 50 g/100 L) in alcohol was found to be higher than the standard levels as provided by Uganda National bureau of standards and minimum ethanol content is 37.5% v/vin.
Uganda is now languishing in poverty and more people have been mislead into believing that using alcohol will lessen their problems.
In Uganda we had approximately 40 cases of deaths due to drinking adulterated local gin waragi, packed in sachets – first reported in March 2007. Again close to 300 people were reported to have lost their lives due to alcohol poisoning between 2007 and 2009. In September 2009, the government and Ministry of Health imposed a ban on local gin (waragi) throughout the country after the death of about 19 people who are believed to have consumed alcohol (waragi) containing methanol, a potent spirit. Production of alcohol and failure to control its sale comes at a high cost. Parents are lost and many women who cannot defend their families are left helpless.
There is still time for government to address this problem of production and alteration of alcohol, first by increasing surveillance on all illicit production in order to bring it in standards control and people should be encouraged to report to their leaders any
production, which they consider un-safe, for prosecution.
There is also the need to have centralized production places on the villages to enable monitoring of all alcohol gin as well as the packaging process.
Children must never be allowed to buy nor to use alcohol, they must be protected to remain safe. And small packaging which make adulterations easier be totally banned and limited, only big bottles(250mils) be allowed to make it difficult for children to access and also make the possibility of taxing and centralized sale of alcohol possible. Cases of blindness and death due to alcohol must not be allowed to occur again.