Sep 22, 2009 News
Guyana is now one of the countries to become engaged in the evaluation of the impact of alcohol and life in Guyana.
This is according to Minister of Health, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, who noted that Guyana is working in collaboration with a number of countries that have already begun this process in a project called ‘Genacis.’
He explained that there are over 40 countries around the world that are currently engaged in this activity.
The project is being promoted and supported by the Germany-based Kettill Broom Society of Epidemiological and Social Studies on Alcohol. This society promotes the work so that countries can have a better idea of the impact of alcohol on societies.
The project is co-ordinated by the North Dakota University in the United States, the South University of Denmark, the Medical University of Berlin along with a Swiss Institute for the prevention of Alcohol problems, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
“Guyana has joined these institutions so that we can study the impact of alcohol in our society. This study is now underway in Guyana and this will help us to have an idea of the consumption. We know it is high but we would have an idea of consumption per capita in our country,” Minister Ramsammy told reporters at a press conference on Saturday.
He explained that Guyana will also study alcohol-related accidents, violence, and its role in domestic violence.
“We believe that alcohol is a serious social problem in Guyana, but Guyana is not unique in this. We cannot ignore the fact that alcohol is a major problem in terms of family problems, interpersonal relationships and violence at the work site. So these are some of the things that we want to study.”
Apart from being one of the primary causes for underdevelopment in Guyana, alcohol has also been identified as the country’s number one drug problem.
It was revealed from a two-day discussion on alcohol control which was hosted by the Health Ministry and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO in April.
At this workshop, it was found that alcohol is the leading drug of choice for youths, and results in a host of physical, legal, economic and social consequences for them and the communities in which they live.
The alcohol industry earns approximately $22 billion annually from underage drinkers who consume mostly beers. A total of $4.8 billion is spent on alcohol advertising, which aims to ‘normalise’ drinking.
Research shows that youths who drink before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence and two and a half times more likely to become alcohol abusers than those who wait until the age of 21.
Alcohol abuse has many potential consequences including accidental falls, burns, drowning, brain damage, cirrhosis in the liver, impaired driving, pregnancy, poor school performance, work productivity loss, sexual assault, truancy, violence and vandalism.
At the workshop it was observed that there is a drinking pattern between adult and youths. It was explained that while adults consume alcohol moderately, by sipping, youths would guzzle or gulp. Most adults would drink at home, while youths would cruise around seeking bars.
Alcohol options have also changed over the years, as a wide array of new alcoholic beverages now appeal to youths.
Today, the new container sizes encourage greater consumption as instead of a 12-oz standard beer, there are now 32, 40 and 60 oz containers.
Communities may unintentionally promote youth alcohol use by allowing alcohol sponsorship at youth-related events.
It was recently reported that the Guyana Government collects some $2 billion in taxes from alcohol purchases, on a yearly basis, but Health Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy had said that the taxes collected only comprise a small part of what the government actually spends on the health sector.
It was noted that close to 60 percent of youths between the ages of 13 and 15 would have taken a drink at some time.
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