Uganda still leads in alcohol consumption

Thursday July 29 2010

By Joseph Miti

Uganda has maintained the lead in consumption of harmful alcohol in Africa, experts have revealed. Dr Nazarius Mbona, a senior lecturer at Makerere University Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, said Uganda’s per capita consumption of alcohol is 19 litres per year compared to an average four litres in other African countries.

“Although alcohol consumption rate is lowering here now, we are still ranked the highest,” Dr Mbona said.

Crude alcohol
In 2005, the World Health Organisation ranked Uganda as the leading consumer of alcohol in the world. The per capita consumption was 19.5 litres, according to the 2004 World Health Organisation report, closely followed by Luxembourg at 17.54 litres and the Czech Republic at 16.21 litres.

Dr Mbona said about 80 percent of the alcohol drank in Uganda is produced informally and this includes crude waragi, muramba, tonto and other locally-brewed contents.
“What amuses us most is that Uganda has fewer people taking alcohol than other nations but those who drink consume a lot,” he added.

Dr Mbona was addressing a press conference in response to the coming Kettil Bruun Society thematic meeting on alcohol epidemiology and policy that in November in Kampala.

According to Dr David Guwatudde, the deputy dean School of Public Health, the international conference will offer a platform for review and discussion of existing policies related to production, sale and consumption of alcohol.

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Drinking for toxication
Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi, a principle medical officer, Mental Health and Control of Substance abuse, said alcohol abuse in Uganda is a public health concern, which needs an urgent response.

“In developed world, people drink alcohol for socialisation, but here in Uganda, people drink for toxication,” she said. Dr Ndyanabangi said alcohol abuse is affecting the country financially by incurring costs on treating increasing diseases arising from the same, cause of unemployment and increasing health budget of treating addicted persons.

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