Zimbabwe: Alcohol Causes 1000 Traffic Deaths Annually
Zimbabwean Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo recently said at least 1000 people die annually and 3000 get injured from alcohol-related traffic accidents.
Speaking during a function to raise awareness against alcohol and other drug problems, Minister Moyo said the most affected by alcohol harm were youth. He added that young people start to use alcohol as young as 12 – 13 years.
Alcohol and other drug use has dire consequences on youth and society at large. Among the many harms of alcohol on youth are loss of productivity, disruption in family life and disruption to progress of their own lives.
Alcohol also is linked with over 200 disease and injury conditions, taking over three million lives, a year worldwide. According to Minister Moyo alcohol is a major risk factor for HIV/ AIDS and other infectious diseases like tuberculosis.
The minister stated the Zimbabwean Government was formulating policies that will address the pervasive and heavy alcohol problems in society.
These polices would facilitate a coordinated evidence-based national effort to manage these [alcohol use] disorders and to ensure a public health approach to the problem [alcohol harm] with universal access to care not just for those who can afford to pay for treatment,” said Dr Obadiah Moyo, Zimbabwean Health and Child Care Minister.
Alcohol harm in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s per capita alcohol consumption shows a growing trend since 2010. Over half (54.1%) of the alcohol using youth between 15 to 19 years in Zimbabwe binge on the substance. Alcohol harm is pervasive in the country despite having a clear majority of alcohol abstainers (82.4% – past 12 months).
Alcohol use disorders and alcohol dependence are both higher than the African regional average for Zimbabwean men. The country is ranked at the higher end for years of life lost due to alcohol.
It is evident that Zimbabwe urgently needs a comprehensive national alcohol control policy to curb the growing harm for its people. Ideally, the policy which is currently being formulated will follow the WHO SAFER package and encompass the recommended alcohol policy best buys of reduced affordability, availability restrictions and ban on alcohol promotions, advertising and sponsorship, to reduce alcohol harm and create a safer environment, specially for children and youth.