Alcohol kills over 3 million people annually

Hohoe, Sept. 24, GNA – Three million and over
people died as a result of harmful use of alcohol in 2016, according to a
report released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday.

This represents one in 20 deaths and more than
three quarters of these deaths were among men.

The harmful use of alcohol, overall, causes
more than five per cent of the global disease burden, according to its release
copied to the Ghana News Agency.

WHO’s Global status report on alcohol and
health 2018 presented a comprehensive picture of alcohol consumption and the
disease burden attributable to alcohol worldwide.

It also described what countries were doing to
reduce this burden.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
Director-General of WHO, said “For too many people, their families and
communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through
violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke.

“It’s time to step up action to prevent this
serious threat to the development of healthy societies.

“We would like to see Member States implement
creative solutions that will save lives, such as taxing alcohol and restricting

“We must do more to cut demand and reach the
target set by governments of a 10per cent relative reduction in consumption of
alcohol globally between 2010 and 2025,” added Dr Tedros.

Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28 per
cent were due to injuries, such as those from traffic crashes, self-harm and
interpersonal violence; 21 per cent due to digestive disorders; 19 per cent due
to cardiovascular diseases, and the remainder due to infectious diseases,
cancers, mental disorders and other health conditions.

Despite some positive global trends in the
prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and number of alcohol-related deaths
since 2010, the overall burden of disease and injuries caused by the harmful
use of alcohol is unacceptably high, particularly in the European Region and
the Region of Americas.

Globally an estimated 237 million men and 46
million women suffered from alcohol-use disorders with the highest prevalence
among men and women in the European region (14.8 per cent and 3.5 per cent) and
the Region of Americas (11.5 per cent and 5.1 per cent). Alcohol-use disorders
were more common in high-income countries.

Global consumption predicted to increase in
the next 10 years

An estimated 2.3 billion people were current
drinkers. Alcohol is consumed by more than half of the population in three WHO
regions – the Americas, Europe and the Western Pacific. Europe has the highest
per capita consumption in the world, even though its per capita consumption had
decreased by more than 10 per cent since 2010.

Current trends and projections pointed to an
expected increase in global alcohol per capita consumption in the next 10
years, particularly in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions and the
Region of the Americas.

The average daily consumption of people who
drank alcohol was 33 grams of pure alcohol a day, roughly equivalent to two
glasses (each of 150 ml) of wine, a large (750 ml) bottle of beer or two shots
(each of 40 ml) of spirits.

Worldwide, more than a quarter (27 per cent)
of all 15–19-year-olds was current drinkers. Rates of current drinking were
highest among 15–19-year-olds in Europe (44 per cent), followed by the Americas
(38 per cent) and the Western Pacific (38 per cent).

School surveys indicated that, in many
countries, alcohol use started before the age of 15 with very small differences
between boys and girls.

Worldwide, 45 per cent of total recorded
alcohol was consumed in the form of spirits. Beer was the second alcoholic
beverage in terms of pure alcohol consumed (34per cent) followed by wine (12
per cent).

Worldwide there have been only minor changes in
preferences of alcoholic beverages since 2010. The largest changes took place
in Europe, where consumption of spirits decreased by three per cent whereas
that of wine and beer increased.

In contrast, more than half (57 per cent, or
3.1 billion people) of the global population aged 15 years and over had
abstained from drinking alcohol in the previous 12 months.

“All countries can do much more to reduce the
health and social costs of the harmful use of alcohol,” said Dr Vladimir
Poznyak, Coordinator of WHO’s Management of Substance Abuse unit.

“Proven, cost-effective actions include
increasing taxes on alcoholic drinks, bans or restrictions on alcohol
advertising, and restricting the physical availability of alcohol.”

Higher-income countries were more likely to
have introduced these policies, raising issues of global health equity and
underscoring the need for greater support to low- and middle-income countries.

Almost all (95 per cent) countries have
alcohol excise taxes, but fewer than half of them use other price strategies
such as banning below-cost selling or volume discounts. The majority of
countries have some type of restriction on beer advertising, with total bans
most common for television and radio, but less common for the internet and
social media.

Reducing the harmful use of alcohol will help
achieve a number of health-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs), including those for maternal and child health, infectious diseases,
non-communicable diseases and mental health, injuries and poisonings.


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