Rwanda: Tackle Alcohol as Obstacle to Development
In Rwanda, alcohol is becoming a mounting burden, affecting the daily life of people as well as society. The harm is even greater for youth with alcohol affecting their education and overall well-being.
Recent WHO data shows that in Rwanda there is a 7% prevalence of alcohol use disorder and a 2.5% prevalence of alcohol dependence.
Experts say there are many factors which lead to alcohol use. Some of these factors are peer pressure, the alcohol norm fueled by alcohol promotions, escaping realities such as poverty and mental health problems, lack of parental care, and absence of protective environments and alcohol policy regulations.
Alcohol’s negative effects
According to Dr Alfred Ngirababeyi, the head of psychiatric care at Huye Isange Rehabilitation Centre, drug dependence has effects that ultimately end up disrupting one’s daily productive life.
Alcohol use disorder of one family member has adverse effects on the entire family by creating family loss and trauma. Among the many negative health effects of alcohol are, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, organ damage specially to kidney, liver, brain, lungs, erectile dysfunction and problems in the menstrual cycle. Apart from these physical health problems alcohol causes mental health problems as well. Alcohol use can lead to depression and dementia in the long run. It can also exacerbate suicidal inclinations.
Other than health harms, alcohol is often used as an excuse to cause violence, thereby, fueling domestic and other interpersonal violence. Further it increases harm to others through road traffic injuries due to driving while intoxicated.
Alcohol abuse in adolescence is a growing concern for Rwanda. This is a threat to the development of the country. Young people are the future of the country and disruption of their well-being and education due to alcohol is an obstacle to the country’s sustainable development.
… 40% of young people that start alcohol use in adolescence develop addictions; alcohol is also the most dangerous of all psychoactive substances,” said Bill Bekunda, a recovery coach in Uganda and IOGT International collaboration partner, as per The New Times.
Alcohol harm in Rwanda
Alcohol per capita consumption is relatively high in Rwanda comparative to the WHO Africa regional average. Alcohol harm on youth is observable as almost 60% youth between 15 to 19 years who use alcohol binge on it. Further over half the population over 15 years of age in Rwanda binge on alcohol. Rwanda is ranked on the high end for years of life lost due to alcohol.
Despite the harm, Rwanda lacks a comprehensive alcohol control policy. Further there are no advertising bans on alcohol or regulations on sponsorship and other promotion. Data suggests urgent policy action is necessary to curb the alcohol harm in the country.