During a meeting between the Parliament’s National Economy Committee and ministry officials, Member of Parliament Veronica Eragu questioned why beer companies are allowed to manufacture and transport their products across the country, while bars are closed due to COVID-19.
As MP Eragu points out, the continued supply of beer enables bars to stay open disregarding government regulations to protect Ugandan citizens during this health crisis.
The continued operation of beer companies contradicts the regulations put in place by Ministry of Health to contain the spread of COVID-19 because the continued beer supply has given bar owner’s leeway to keep their facilities open,” said Veronica Elagu, Ugandan MP, as per Kfm.Veronica Elagu, Member of Parliament, Uganda
In an ill-informed response, health minister Ruth Aceng reportedly said the government could not “stop businesses that bring in revenue to the national economy”. But the health, social and economic harm caused by the products and practices of the alcohol industry in Uganda dwarfs any revenue the industry generates.
The World Health Organization recommended reducing alcohol availability during COVID-19. One of the many reasons is that alcohol weakens immunity and makes people more susceptible to infections. Furthermore, a recent groundbreaking report explores the lethal interaction between alcohol industry products and practices and the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Alcohol increases the health and societal problems arising from the pandemic. For example, alcohol weakens the immune system and makes people more susceptible to infections. And alcohol-centric social contexts have been COVID-19 super spreader events.
- Alcohol increases the burden on healthcare and emergency services which are already stretched due to COVID-19.
- The alcohol industry exploits the pandemic to change alcohol laws to their benefit.