We need a clear policy on alcohol
Posted Tuesday, March 19 2013 at 02:00
The absence of national IDs could frustrate such a policy as it would be hard to ascertain the age of persons entering bars or buying alcohol.
Uganda’s positioning among the top alcohol consuming countries in the world in a Cable News Network (CNN) ranking has been trending on both social media platforms and meeting places.
Titled “World’s 10 best-drinking Nations”, CNN ranked Uganda 8th globally ahead of Germany and Australia. Much as the ranking offered no scientific proof, there should be a big sense of worry.
A related rating by the World Health Organisation five years ago had placed Uganda among the top on the continent with per capita alcohol consumption of 19.5 litres.
This must not be reason to celebrate as it has been noticed in some quarters of our society. This achievement mirrors a much wider problem that we, as a nation, have failed to handle with a sober mind.
A Uganda Youth Development Link report a few years ago estimated that up to 60 per cent of alcohol in Uganda is largely unregulated and unrecorded. The harmful use of alcohol causes considerable public health problems and is ranked as the fifth leading risk factor in premature death and disability in the world by WHO. In Uganda, it has led to poverty, poor health, family break-ups and poor social relationships.
And, the most affected group has been the youths, both in rural and urban areas. As a nation, we believe it is high time we followed our neighbours Kenya with a more strict law on alcohol consumption.
A few years ago, Kenya instituted an Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, which restricts drinking hours from 5pm to midnight on weekdays and 2pm to midnight on weekends and public holidays. Recently, this law was amended to The Alcoholic Drinks Control Amendment Bill 2012 with a change like persons under 18 years of age prevented from any attraction to the consumption of alcohol.
On the contrary, Uganda lacks a clear harmonised policy and licenses on the production and sale of alcohol. Legislation against alcohol exists in form of the 1964 Enguli Act but it is very old and is not enforced.
The absence of national IDs could frustrate such a policy as it would be hard to ascertain the age of persons entering bars or buying alcohol. It is high time Parliament considered making a law on alcohol consumption. Its absence will create more harm than good.