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Health Issues…17.2% Sierra Leoneans Drink Alcohol On A Daily Basis

A survey conducted by the Office of Postgraduate Training and Non-Communicable Diseases and Research at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation indicate that 17.2% of Sierra Leoneans are consuming alcohol almost on a daily basis in the country. This was revealed by the Director of Office of Postgraduate Training and Non-Communicable Diseases and Research, Dr. Donald Taqi at the Ministry at a one- day- sensitization workshop on the harmful effects of alcohol and non-communicable diseases at the Committee Room at the University House, Fourah Bay College in Freetown.

 

According to the Director, the survey which will soon be made public shows that there is about 17.2% Sierra Leoneans who have taken into the habit of drinking alcohol and within this statistics, there is about 24.4% males and 10.9% females.  Dr. Donald Bash Taqi also made known that there is a global statistics showing that 2 billion people are consuming alcohol on a daily basis and 1.8 million people die of alcohol related cases in road accidents like motorbikes, vehicles etc, trauma and other causes.

 

Dr. Donald Bash Taqi said that the Ministry of Health and Sanitation is looking for partnership in bringing down non communicable diseases noting that they have discovered in the survey that alcohol has contributed to cancer, hypertension and other diseases in elderly people. Non communicable diseases are diseases that affect elderly people such as hypertension, cancer etc. The workshop participants included students from FBC, health stakeholders, children and advocacy organizations.

 

A 2003 survey showed that in Sierra Leone, alcohol consumption is about 7% for beer and others 93%. There is no alcohol policy set in the country and there is indication that there is no total ban on alcohol in sight and no adopted written national policy on alcohol, no national control for production and sale, no nationwide awareness raising activities targeting young people drinking and the effects of drunk driving and no nationwide awareness raising activities targeting alcohol and pregnancy.

 

The World Health Organization survey indicates that in 2002, an estimated 2.3 million people died worldwide of alcohol related diseases, 2.3 million deaths accounted for 3.7% of global mortality in all ages. In 2004 alcohol global disease burden was estimated at 3.7% deaths. The harmful use of alcohol has caused the estimated global cost of over 50,000 USD Million in illnesses, over USD 55,000 in premature mortality, over USD 30, 000 in consequences of risk drinking, over USD 30,000 in absenteeism, up to USD80,000 in unemployment, over USD30,000 in criminal justice cost and over USD15,000 in criminal damages.

 

Drug dependence is difficult to control due to compulsive drug use and craving, leading to drug seeking and repetitive use even in the face of negative health and social consequences. One dependent, the individual often fails in his or her attempts to quit.

 

No country is immune to substance related problems. Substance users are found worldwide among men, women and youths. Incidences of substance dependence are on the rise in many countries. There is strong evidence showing an increase in drug related problems in developing countries with a significant impact on mortality, disease and injury. These problems affect the poor and are prevalent among the poorest in developed countries too.

 

Alcohol using behaviours are dynamic with emergent patterns changing depending on factors such as availability of drugs, introduction of new drugs, new modes of administration and rapid social changes. More research is necessary to develop new treatments and preventive strategies, support services and to understand the associations between substance dependence and other risky behaviours. People with health problems should receive and benefit from health services and not punishment.

 

The possible short and long term consequences of substance use include mortality, morbidity and co-morbidity and social isolation and stigma. People with substance dependence are among the most marginalized societies and are in need of treatment and care. Ninety percent (90%) of people in most Western societies consume alcohol at some time during their lives and 30% develop temporary alcohol related life problems.

 

Alcohol and general health- Alcohol has many effects on the body such as nervous, gastrointestinal problems, poor blood circulation, cancer, foetal alcohol and more. The gastrointestinal problems are not limited to inflammation of the oesaphagus or stomach, fatty liver and cirrhosis, pancreatic disorder with associated diabetes and insufficiency in indigestive enzymes. The cerebrovascular and cardiovascular problems are contributing risk to myocardial infarction and thrombosis and alcoholic cardiomyopathy. Blood producing systems with high level of alcohol intake to the range of four to eight drinks a day may decrease the production of white blood cells.

 

For foetal effect, alcohol and acetaldehyde cross the placenta with ease in high enough doses can produce foetal and spontaneous abortion. Surviving infants of heavy-drinking mothers can evidence mixture of the components of a syndrome that is in full-blown form that can include severe mental retardation, small head, diminished physical size, facial abnormalities (including a flat bridge of the nose, absence of philtrum and an epicanthal eye fold),arterial septal heart defect and sydactyly.

 

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