The Rwandan government has launched a campaign called “TunyweLess” (“Let’s Drink Less” in Kiswahili) after a recent survey showed a significant increase in alcohol consumption among people, especially the youth, in the country.
The campaign aims to urge people to either quit alcohol use or reduce alcohol consumption, explained Francois Uwinkindi, division manager of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) at the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), according to Xinhua reporting.
We are implementing various preventive measures and interventions to address alcohol consumption and prioritize the well-being of future generations,” he said.Francois Uwinkindi, division manager of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC)
In June, an RBC population-based national survey on the prevalence of NCD risk factors in Rwanda showed that alcohol consumption in the country has increased from 41% in 2013 to 48% in 2022.
The survey involved face-to-face interviews and physical and biochemical measurements of 5,676 people aged 18-69 from all four provinces of Rwanda and the City of Kigali.
The survey also showed that the frequency of alcohol consumption was higher in men (61.9%) than in women (34.3%). Among the provinces, the western province had the highest rate of heavy alcohol intake.
The survey also found a decline in heavy episodic alcohol use from 23.5% in 2013 to 15.2% in 2022. Heavy episodic alcohol use is defined as the proportion of adults (15+ years) who have consumed at least 60 grams or more of pure alcohol on at least one occasion in the past 30 days.
Dr. Francois Uwinkindi, the head of the NCDs Division at RBC, acknowledged the positive reduction in heavy episodic alcohol use but emphasized the need for further reduction as the country continues its fight against NCDs. He suggested the implementation of new alcohol policy solutions, as well as increased public awareness.
According to Mr Uwinkindi, the rise in alcohol consumption, especially among people between 40 and 49 years of age, and the youth, is a cause for concern, as per Xinhua reporting.
An increase in disposable income among some age groups might be contributing to the higher alcohol consumption rates. Additionally, peer pressure and unemployment among the youth are believed to be influencing factors.
An in-depth study is being planned to understand the root causes better and guide intervention measures.”Francois Uwinkindi, division manager of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC)
Strategies to protect youth from alcohol harm
To address rising alcohol consumption among the youth, Mr Uwinkindi said, the government is focusing on awareness campaigns to educate people about the dangers of alcohol use.
Mr Uwinkindi also emphasized that limiting alcohol advertising, similar to the approach taken with tobacco, is being considered to reduce its appeal.
Other potential strategies include increasing taxes on alcohol, regulating commercialization and alcohol sales hours, and enforcing laws against driving under the influence of alcohol are preventive measures the government should also look into, added Mr Uwinkindi.
He said that the government is emphasizing family education and going back to cultural values to teach children about the dangers of alcohol consumption. The focus is primarily on prevention.
At the launch of the report, Rwandan Health Minister Sabin Nsanzimana emphasized the need to reverse the trend of alcohol consumption in Rwanda. He warned that alcohol consumption is linked to NCDs, including certain types of cancer.
Concern as alcohol consumption surges in Rwanda
Health professionals have raised concerns over the growing number of people consuming alcohol in Rwanda, following a recent survey conducted by the Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).
Minister of Health Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana shared some of the survey’s results on his Twitter account, emphasizing the need to reverse the trend of alcohol consumption in Rwanda, as per The New Times reporting.
We must reverse this trend. Avoid alcohol or [only consume small amounts of alcohol] to live longer, healthier lives, and stay safe. Alcohol is not only more harmful to young people but is also illegal for anyone under 18.”Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana, Minister of Health, Rwanda
Prevalence of Alcohol in Cases of Intimate Partner Violence in Rwanda 2015 – 2020
In 2022, a study examined the trends and correlates of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) victimization for men and women in Rwanda. The study showed that alcohol use is the second biggest risk factor for IPV against women and the single biggest risk factor for IPV against men in Rwanda.
Women whose husbands/partners consumed alcohol were 3 times more likely to face IPV than women whose husbands did not drink alcohol.
The prevalence of IPV among women increased from 40% in 2015 to 46% in 2020, while it decreased from 21 to 18% in men during the same time period.
The associated factors for women IPV victimization in 2015 were:
The associated factors for women IPV victimization in 2020 were:
- uneducated husband (Adjusted Odds Ratios (AOR) = 5.570),
- husband consuming alcohol (AOR = 3.021),
- woman from the poorest household (AOR = 2.834),
- husband aged from 30 to 39 years (AOR = 2.797),
- women involved in decisions about their own earnings (AOR = 0.576), and
- purchases (AOR = 0.472).
- uneducated husbands (AOR = 3.032),
- husbands consuming alcohol (AOR = 1.712),
- a woman’s involvement in decisions on her personal health (AOR = 0.443), and
- visits from her family or relatives (AOR = 0.405) were factors of IPV in 2020.
On the other hand, the associated factors for men IPV victimization in 2015 and 2020 were:
- woman often consuming alcohol (AOR = 13.30),
- frequency of being hit in last 12 months by other than partner (AOR = 5.49),
- being from richer wealth index (AOR = 0.21),
- whereas its associated factor in 2020 were women consuming alcohol (AOR = 3.91).
Women whose husbands/partners consumed alcohol were 3.021 times more likely to face IPV than women whose husbands did not drink alcohol (AOR = 3.021),
In multivariate analysis in 2020, women with uneducated husbands (AOR = 3.032) and women whose husbands consumed alcohol (AOR = 1.712) were exposed to greater risks of IPV.
According to the study, the associated factors of intimate partner violence were women’s wealth index, the husband/partner’s age and level of education, partners’ alcohol usage, and women’s participation in the decision making about their health, earnings, purchases, and visits to relatives or friends.
The study also found that women whose husbands use alcohol are at high risk of experiencing intimate partner violence, which is consistent with findings from other studies.
First Lady addresses alcohol harm
Let us talk about alcohol, writes Rwanda’s First Lady Jeannette Kagame, addressing the country’s alcohol burden in an OpEd in the New Times, calling it “an issue that I find to be of deepening concern.”
Ms Kagame writes that she thinks alcohol was “too normalized, romanticised and glamourized” to ignore it any further. And she underscores the importance of reducing alcohol use.
She calls alcohol advertisements a “a cruel farce”.
The New Times: “Concern as alcohol consumption surges in Rwanda“
The New Times: “Let us talk about alcohol, writes First Lady Jeannette Kagame“