THE growing problem of alcohol abuse among Zambians has been one of the many spikey issues in Zambia for some years without any instant solution in sight.
Yet experts have repeatedly warned that alcohol abuse which has inopportunely become a national anthem among our youths is related to the development of cancers, neuropsychiatric disorders, cardiovascular diseases and cirrhosis of the liver among others.
Magnitudes of alcohol misuse and alcohol related maladies have been reported be high among Psychiatric patients and these appear to be on the increase.
Interventions are therefore needed to lessen rates of alcohol abuse and subsequently alcohol related disorders in Zambia.
A risk assessment by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that the destructive impact of alcohol consumption on the worldwide burden of disease and injury is enormous.
It is the third highest global risk factor for disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), ranked after underweight during childhood and having unprotected sex
No doubt therefore that alcohol misuse is a significant and avertible major risk factor for chronic diseases that are related to daily life preferences.
We will be the first to admit however that alcohol consumption has been a part of the Zambian culture for a long time and will continue to be so probably until Judgment Day.
Social drinking is generally accepted and included in many significant traditions and ceremonies including at funerals and weddings.
Unfortunately, Zambia has been reported to be one of the African nations with the highest drinking levels with the rate of alcohol related disorders increasing yearly with no gender difference.
But perhaps what is more worrisome is the participation of our youths who form the majority of the population at more than 70 percent who have taken to alcohol consumption like tomorrow never comes.
It has been argued that high rates of stinging poverty and an unemployment rate, alcohol ill-use among young people has become progressively common.
Children as young as 9 years old can often be found in bars or consuming alcohol on the streets, especially in our sprawling townships
The news therefore of the launch of a mobilization workshop to lay a firm foundation for the effective implementation of the National Alcohol Policy (NAP) for Zambia by the Southern Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) is a most welcome development
SAAPA’s technical adviser Jonas Ngulube said the main objective of the workshop was to ensure that the document became the best practice of regulating alcohol consumption in Zambia.
Mr Ngulube was speaking in an interview with the media at a three-day workshop in Kabwe which was attended by among other stakeholders, government ministries, RTSA and Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs)
He said the alcohol regulation process would lead to a healthy nation of productive people.
“Under economic growth, we want to contribute by making sure that our people are productive, striking a balance on being productive and a moment of relaxation,
“We are mobilizing multi-sectoral teams so that together we can achieve a healthy nation without living anyone behind,” he said.
Mr Ngulube said if they did not engage and looked at the factors needed to achieve a healthy nation such as alcohol regulation the policy would not be implemented effectively.
He said the contribution of various stakeholders in the regulation of alcohol abuse was cardinal because it affected the nation economically, socially and politically.
SAAPA engagement would help decision-makers strike a balance as they made policies that affected the nation.
“Our contribution in alcohol regulation affects several parts of our social, economic even the political system, in decision making which must come first,
“Should we save the interest of the international companies at the expense of the health of our citizens, so as we engage stakeholders we want to bring the balance in what decision-makers must begin to resolve,” he said.
Overcoming an addiction to alcohol can be a long and bumpy road. At times, it may even feel unfeasible. But it is not.
There would be need therefore to come up not only with a dynamic policy but fast-moving programme too to ensure Zambians recuperate from alcoholism and alcohol abuse.