NEWS that about 283 premises had been closed for defying Government directives against Covid-19 guidelines is shocking.
The past two months have seen unprecedented numbers in terms of Covid-19 admissiins and deaths and yet Zambians are still willing to expose themselves to coronavirus simy because of the love of beer
According to the Ministry of Health, another 153 drinking places were served with notices of improvement.
The penchant for alcohol abuse is well known.
In 2019, the media ws awash with stories of Zambia has a major alcohol problem.That’s according to a report by the World Health Organisation that indicates 76 percent of men and 33 percent of women in Zambia consume too much.The report also notes that 43 percent of children consume alcohol. Health authorities warned that alcoholism is a ticking time bomb that is already contributing to 80 percent of psychiatric conditions at the Chainama Hills hospital.
Alcohol misuse is an important and preventable major risk factor for chronic diseases that are related to lifestyle choices. It has been shown to be associated with more than 60 physical and mental illnesses; and social problems. The excessive use of alcohol is related to the development of serious illnesses such as cancer, neuropsychiatric disorders, cardiovascular diseases and cirrhosis of the liver.
Alcohol consumption has been a part of the Zambian culture for a long time. Social drinking is commonly accepted and included in many important traditions and ceremonies. Zambia is one of the African nations with the highest drinking levels. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) health report of 2014, the 12-month prevalence of alcohol use disorders among Zambians above 15 years of age, including alcohol dependence and harmful use of alcohol, is 7.9% of the male and 1.0% of the female population with an overall rate of 4.5% which is above the average of 3.3% for the WHO African Region. This gender difference is shown in the effects of alcohol which causes significantly more harm to males than female, suggesting different drinking habits in relation to quantity and pattern of drinking.
Apart from alcohol abuse being related to the development of illnesses such as cancer, neuropsychiatric disorders, cardiovascular diseases and cirrhosis of the liver, it is also related to HIV since it elevates the sexual risk taking behaviors concerning the number of partners, condom use and intimate partner violence.
Alcohol appears to have more evils than good and there is a lot of evidence of this.
At one time there was a claim online that Zambian women were the most hardcore drinkers in the world as compared to women in other countries.
Covid-19 fatalities hve been lonked to comorbidities such as hypertension and diabetes. These are often lifestyle diseases as a result of tobacco and alcohol use as well as lack of exercise.
It is unfortunate that the love of beer is seen as something normal in this country.
While we understand that the running of a bar or night club is a business venture, this is not a time to put the desire for financial success over the health of patrons.
It is well known that as alcohol levels go up, inhibitions go down.
Issues of social distance, mask wearing, spreading of saliva and a higher possibility of the transmission of the corona virus go out the window once the rules are dropped.
Bar owners must make the sacrifice and adhere to the public health guidelines not because they fear legal repercussions but as a contribution to the fight against the spread of Covid-19.