Health experts want intervention in alcohol abuse

04Jul 2016
The Guardian
Health experts want intervention in alcohol abuse

HEALTH stakeholders in the country have underscored the need for multi-disciplinary approach to intervene the harmful use of alcohol which is a growing problem, especially among youths.

Nutshell view on alcoholism

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, the Alcohol Harm Reduction Project Coordinator from Tanzania Public Health Association, Dr Bertha Maegga said alcohol abuse is a huge burden to the nation.

She said that alcohol usage is reported to have a number of consequences to individuals, families and the entire nations.

She said presence of toxic substances and unhygienic conditions increase health risks in the informal products – homemade beer and spirits.

Dr Maegga said in Tanzania for instance, it is reported that more than 80percent of consumers use homemade products, the quality of alcohol consumed can add to the health hazards.

“I call on all stakeholders to use golden opportunity as Multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary body to advocate for alcohol policy and law enforcement to protect the society. Let us take up the challenge now” she said

She further said apart from that, alcohol has more risk factors including alcohol dependence explained that According to her, alcohol has also Dr

Dr Maegga mentioned some of risk factors for alcohol dependence as psychiatric disorders causing depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, personality traits, behavioral disorders and Lack of Impulse Control

According to the experts, alcohol was a psychoactive substance with dependence-producing properties – it is an intoxicating drug & it affects mental health

Furthermore, she said that alcohol was the most widely used intoxicating drug globally, and even in Tanzania more than tobacco & cannabis

She described that the harmful use of alcohol causes a large disease burden; being a social and economic burden in society’s, Dr Ali Mzige, a public health consultant at Muhimbili, says the government must act to protect people, especially the young.

"There's no room for complacency when it comes to reducing the harmful use of alcohol. The government must work hard to review its alcohol policy to spare the young generation," said

Research conducted by the Muhimbili's Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health in 2013 suggests that almost 50 percent of recorded cases of mental illness in Tanzania were linked to alcohol and drug abuse.

"We are seeing an increase in substance and alcohol misuse, abuse and dependency among young people, public awareness is critical to address this problem," said Dr Praxeda Swai, a mental health specialist at Muhimbili National Hospital.

She said loneliness, depression, family breakdown or unemployment was the main reasons why people drink too much.

On January 5, last year, it was reported that young, jobless Tanzanians had been increasingly drowning their frustrations in cheap fake liquor.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children in 2013, an estimated 3.6 million Tanzanian men and 1.7 million women drink excessively.

The number was more than 10 percent of the county's population of some 45 million by then.

But the government tends to view alcohol consumption as an individual lifestyle choice.

"As a government, there is little we can do on this matter, consumers should understand the risk of drinking too much alcohol and decide what to do on their own," said Dr Seif Rashid, the then Tanzania's health minister told the parliament.

Medical experts warn that misuse of alcohol makes people more susceptible to non-communicable diseases such kidney complaints, diabetes, hypertension and cancer.

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