Speaking at the official launch of Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA)’s memory quilt project, the chairperson Ms. Priscilla Mokgadi, highlighted the urgent need in Botswana for alcohol policy improvement to reduce availability of alcohol and restrict alcohol advertising even more. Alcohol policies should prioritize improving public health of Botswana not private profits.
Let us use the alcohol levy to reduce the number of people buying alcohol and rehabilitating people affected by alcohol consumption,” said Ms. Priscilla Mokgadi, chairperson of SAAPA Botswana, as per Daily News.Ms. Priscilla Mokgadi, chairperson, SAAPA Botswana
According to Mr. Jerry Moloko, the project consultant for the SAAPA memory quilt project, alcohol policies greatly vary across Botswana. Instead of achieving the mandate of reducing alcohol harm, alcohol taxation is not implemented properly and so the situation is getting worse. Meanwhile heavy alcohol advertising is influencing young people to initiate alcohol use.
Without a comprehensive alcohol law the alcohol industry can not be held responsible for the harm their products and practices cause society.
The country also urgently needs more support services for recovery from alcohol use disorder. A proper alcohol tax mechanism can generate domestic resources for society which could in turn be invested into prevention, health promotion and treatment.
Alcohol harm in Botswana
Alcohol harm was and is pervasive in Botswana, illustrating the importance of alcohol prevention and control.
Regarding years of life lost due to alcohol, the country ranks among the countries in the world with the highest burden. More than 12% of men in Botswana have an alcohol use disorder. And more than 70% of young males who consume alcohol engage in heavy episodic alcohol use. Overall, per capita alcohol use of those who consume alcohol is at staggering 26.2 liters of pure alcohol per year. Botswana’s total alcohol consumption is higher than the regional average in the WHO African region.
Despite the pervasive alcohol harm in the country, Movendi International reported in January, 2020 how the Botswana government weakened alcohol policy further by allowing for alcohol sponsorship of sports and partnerships between sporting codes and the alcohol industry.
The country urgently needs to implement evidence-based and cost-effective alcohol policy solutions such as the three best buys – increasing taxes, limiting availability, and advertising bans – and the SAFER package recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Only through such policy measures can Botswana reduce the heavy alcohol burden and protect itself from alcohol industry interference in the country.