Ministry wants reduction in consumption of alcohol

Ministry wants reduction in consumption of alcohol

Thursday, July 09, 2015

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THE Ministry of Health, through the National Strategic and Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of  non-communicable diseases (2013-2018), plans to reduce the harmful consumption of alcohol by three per cent by 2018. The plan has been approved by Cabinet.

Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson made the announcement at the opening of a National Alcohol Policy Workshop at the Medallion Hall Hotel in St Andrew on Tuesday.

"We are here as ministries, departments, agencies, and civil society to put heart and mind, expertise and experience together to tackle yet another formidable behavioural risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) -- the harmful use of alcohol," said the minister.

He pointed out that through various stakeholders, the ministry plans to implement the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations for the reduction of the harmful use of alcohol as well as implement a social marketing campaign designed to discourage harmful use of alcohol, and raise public awareness, especially among the youth, about alcohol-related health risks, including cancer.

Quoting statistics related to the use of alcohol by adolescents, the minister said that alcohol remains the most widely used substance among adolescents.

"Approximately 10 per cent of the students interviewed reported getting drunk an average three times... and 12 per cent of the students reported consuming five or more alcoholic beverages," Dr Ferguson added.

He said the ministry will also strengthen the capacity of health care services to deliver prevention and treatment interventions for hazardous drinking and alcohol use disorders.

Meanwhile, international consultant with the WHO and the Pan American World Health Organization (PAHO), Dr Jurgen Rehm, cited a number of health risks associated with alcohol abuse.

These include cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, ischaemic stroke and haemorrhagic stroke; a number of cancers, such as female breast cancer, oesophageal and nasopharyngeal cancer, and gastrointestinal diseases, like cirrhosis and pancreatitis.

Spanning three days, the workshop will see a number of presentations from Ministry of Health officials and representatives from the WHO and PAHO.

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