Written By Kundai Marunya
Southern Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) board member Jonas Ngulube said there in an urgent need to come up and enforce a viable alcohol policy in Zimbabwe in bid to protect public health.
The Zambian national who is in the country for a three day workshop at Cresta Oasis Hotel said, “There is need for a policy that regulates the alcohol trade safeguarding public health opposed to the current situation where commercial interests are superseding the well-being of society.”
Ngulube went on to review how breweries are getting away with advertising to minors. “We have billboards and bars close to schools and televised advertising that gives an impression that to be a real man one has to drink. Revered sports persons and artists are used to entice the young people who admire them,” he said.
“A good policy can create an environment where those who do not want to drink are supported to stay sober not enticed by unethical advertising.”
Ngulube’s presentation reviewed that only Botswana has a Public Health Policy on Alcohol which was put in place by the reigning president Ian Khama. “They invested 155 million pula which went towards breathlisers, health promotion, and setting up rehabilitation facilities among other things,” he said. The invested money is levied on alcohol sales.
Listed social ills of alcohol abuse includes road carnage, child abuse, gender based violence, poverty and the slowing of development, to mention a few. “Alcohol usage can deter us from achieving most of our Sustainable Development goals,” said Ngulube.
Of the road accidents recorded during the festive season last year, over two thirds were caused by human error mostly attributed to drunk driving. “Alcohol related accidents cost us unavailable finances, superseding the money coming from the industry through taxes. After an accident the traffic cops are required to visit the scene, ambulances, hospitals and courts are involved, so it’s cheaper to prevent that cure,” he said.
SAAPA is an organization that advocates for a healthy society free of alcohol and drug abuse. Ngulube hopes to set up a Zimbabwean chapter during his stay.