By Kabuye Ronald
Ugandan cabinet approved a policy that makes it criminal for persons below 21 years to use or be sold to alcohol.
This was revealed by Dr.Hafiswah Lukwata Ssentogo, the in charge mental health and substance abuse at the ministry of health during the Uganda Alcohol Policy Alliance virtual conference.
According to Dr. Hafiswah, 21 years were considered as the limit from the age of 18 years because at that age it’s very hard for the person to start using alcohol and other illicit drugs.
She is very optimistic that in the new policy that has started biting it will deny the alcohol industry a chance to tap into the young generation thus help in preserving the country’s future.
The ministry of health is also undertaking surveillance in various districts and interesting leaders to come up with bylaws to curb the harmful use of alcohol especially in regards to the drinking hours. So far the engagements have brought fruits in Gulu, Jinja and Masindi districts.
The enforcement of the new policy commence at a time when alcohol bars and clubbing places are still under lock down due to the covid 19 pandemic.
The ministry of health statistics indicate that 70% of the Covid 19 patients have drinking habits which reduces the chances of their survival and increase the rate of spreading the virus.
Alcohol use further leads to at least 3.3 million death annually and causes over 200 diseases, mental disorders and injuries in addition to being the leading cause of gender based and domestic violence.
Statistic furthermore indicate that Uganda’s alcohol per capita consumption of 9.8 liters is among the highest in Africa as Africa’s average is 6 litres (WHO, 2014). In 2011, a worldwide survey of socio-economic consequences of alcohol consumption reported Uganda as the country with the highest rate of alcohol-related negative consequences among listed drinkers.