Zim­bos drink­ing them­selves to perdi­tion

While a dog might be a man’s best friend, beer, it seems, is also a bo­som buddy, if the lat­est re­port from the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) is any­thing to go by.

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Ticha­fara Bepe

OF THE 7 bil­lion souls who in­habit the Earth, 2,3 bil­lion are cur­rent drinkers. In fact, al­co­hol is con­sumed by more than half the pop­u­la­tion in the Amer­i­cas, Europe and the Western Pa­cific WHO re­gions. Zim­babwe is no ex­cep­tion. In both rev­elry and som­bre oc­ca­sions, lo­cals al­most al­ways con­sider al­co­hol as a handy com­pan­ion.

They hap­pily glug away at wed­ding cer­e­monies or par­ties, pour al­co­hol as li­ba­tion dur­ing tra­di­tional cer­e­monies and rites, and also pep up their griev­ing souls at funeral wakes. And it shows through the num­bers. Ac­cord­ing to the Global Sta­tus Re­port on Al­co­hol and Health, which was re­leased by WHO on Sep­tem­ber 21, the coun­try’s al­co­hol con­sump­tion stands at 4,8 litres of pure al­co­hol per 100 000 peo­ple, which trans­lates to about 320 pints of beer or 16 bot­tles of whisky or vodka.

But lo­cals are trumped by fel­low im­bibers in the re­gion and be­yond.

In South Africa and Botswana, con­sump­tion is 9,3 litres and 8,4 litres, re­spec­tively.

It is even higher in East Africa, where it was gauged at 9,4 litres and 9,5 litres in Tan­za­nia and Uganda in that order.

Fur­ther, con­sump­tion is rel­a­tively higher in Nige­ria at 13,4 litres.

How­ever, for those who drink in Zim­babwe, most of them pre­fer beer to any other al­co­holic bev­er­age.

WHO es­tab­lished that beer ac­counted for 63 per­cent of al­co­hol con­sumed lo­cally be­tween 2015 and 2017.

Other brews such as masese (opaque beer), kachasu, makumbi and am­a­ganu (Amarula fruit) stood at 24 per­cent.

Spir­its were fur­ther down the lad­der at 12 per­cent.

The up­take of wine – con­sid­ered es­o­teric in this part of the world – stood at a mere 1 per­cent.

As the econ­omy im­proves, so too does the beer drinkers’ thirst.

Delta Bev­er­ages – which is the sec­ond-big­gest firm by mar­ket cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion ($2,6 bil­lion as of last week) – re­cently re­ported that larger beer vol­umes rose by 56 per­cent in the first-quar­ter ended June 30, 2018, while sparkling bev­er­ages like soft drinks only grew by 23 per­cent. Pay­ing the price But the love for al­co­hol comes at a grim and heavy price.

WHO claims that al­co­hol re­sults in 158 000 deaths an­nu­ally in Zim­babwe, and of these fatal­i­ties, 36 000 are deaths from liver cir­rho­sis, 109 000 are from al­co­hol-in­duced road traf­fic in­juries and 13 500 deaths from can­cers at­trib­uted to al­co­hol con­sump­tion.

As a re­sult, lo­cal drinkers shed two and a half years off their life ex­pectancy, which is cur­rently at 61, ac­cord­ing to the in­ter­na­tional pub­lic health agency.

Put sim­ply, it means if you are a drinker, you are likely not go­ing to live be­yond 59 years.

Fig­ures also show that 210 000 Zim­bab­weans are de­pen­dent on al­co­hol, while around 614 000 have al­co­hol use dis­or­ders that in­clude psy­chosis and ag­gres­sion.

In par­tic­u­lar, heavy episodic drink­ing is prac­ticed by 123 000 fe­male drinkers and 735 000 male drinkers. Pol­icy Pol­i­cy­mak­ers around the world, how­ever, con­tinue to lobby gov­ern­ments to in­tro­duce poli­cies de­signed to cut al­co­hol con­sump­tion.

“To re­duce harm­ful use of al­co­hol, it is rec­om­mended gov­ern­ments in­crease ex­cise taxes on al­co­holic bev­er­ages, ban or com­pre­hen­sively re­strict ex­po­sure to al­co­hol ad­ver­tis­ing, and re­strict­ing the avail­abil­ity of al­co­hol via re­duced hours of sale,” reads the re­port.

Gov­ern­ment has been par­tic­u­larly bru­tal when it comes to “sin taxes”.

In the 2013 Na­tional Bud­get, ex­cise duty on lager beer was in­creased to 45 per­cent from 40 per­cent ef­fec­tive De­cem­ber 12, 2012, only for the in­crease to be re­viewed back to 40 per­cent on Jan­uary 1, 2015.

Dur­ing Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa’s visit to Delta Bev­er­ages’ plant on July 23 this year, the listed com­pany’s chair­per­son Dr Canaan Dube urged Gov­ern­ment to fur­ther down­wardly re­view ex­cise duty on their prod­ucts.

The tax head re­mains one of the crit­i­cal rev­enue streams for the na­tional purse.

In April this year alone, of the $65 mil­lion gen­er­ated by ex­cise duty, 68,8 per­cent was from fuel, 15 per­cent from beer and 10 per­cent from air­time.

Al­though the tax­man gets rich pick­ings from beer sales, it is un­der­stood that Gov­ern­ment is cur­rently work­ing on a draft Na­tional Al­co­hol Pol­icy that will pro­vide strict guide­lines on the sale of al­co­holic bev­er­ages.

In essence, the pol­icy pro­poses to bar the sale of al­co­hol dur­ing the week, reg­u­late the num­ber of hours to sell the prod­ucts and pro­vide guide­lines on the con­sump­tion of al­co­hol dur­ing spe­cial events like par­ties and wed­dings on the ba­sis of the venue at which they are held.

Mo­tor ve­hi­cle driv­ers found with a blood al­co­hol con­cen­tra­tion of above 0,08 per 100ml of blood face ar­rest while those found sell­ing the prod­uct to preg­nant women will also face ar­rest.

The pol­icy also pro­poses that any al­co­hol ad­ver­tise­ment should be done not less than 100 me­tres from a road in­ter­sec­tion, school, clinic, hospi­tal, church and old peo­ple’s homes.

WHO main­tains that low-in­come coun­tries need com­pre­hen­sive al­co­hol poli­cies as a way of con­tribut­ing to­wards bet­ter health­care sys­tems, which are an in­te­gral part of the United Na­tions 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment.

Over­all, high-in­come coun­tries con­sume more al­co­hol, rel­a­tive to low-in­come coun­tries.

“There is need for stronger poli­cies on re­duc­tion of al­co­hol con­sump­tion in low-in­come coun­tries as their health sys­tems are al­ready of poorer stan­dards. Thereby, al­co­hol-in­duced ill­nesses and ail­ments are more likely to lead to death in these parts of the world,” warns WHO in its lat­est re­port.

Beer is al­most al­ways abun­dantly avail­able at many func­tions

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Zimbabwe

© PressReader. All rights reserved.