Over 3 mn people died due to alcoholism in 2016: WHO 

ST Correspondent
Wednesday, 26 September 2018

“It is time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies. Despite some positive global trends in the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and number of alcohol-related deaths since 2010, the overall burden of disease and injuries caused by the harmful use of alcohol is unacceptably high,” said Dr Ghebreyesus. 

Pune: Over three million people died as a result of alcoholism in 2016, according to a report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO). This represents 1 in 20 deaths. Of the deaths attributable to alcohol, 28 per cent were due to injuries, such as those from traffic crashes, self-harm and interpersonal violence, whereas 21 per cent due to digestive disorders, 19 per cent due to cardiovascular diseases and the remainder due to infectious diseases, cancers, mental disorders and other health conditions. 

In an official statement, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, said far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke. 

“It is time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies. Despite some positive global trends in the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and number of alcohol-related deaths since 2010, the overall burden of disease and injuries caused by the harmful use of alcohol is unacceptably high,” said Dr Ghebreyesus. 

Globally, an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol-use disorders with the highest prevalence among men and women in the European region (14.8 per cent and 3.5 per cent) and the region of Americas (11.5 per cent and 5.1 per cent). Alcohol-use disorders are more common in high-income countries. 

The WHO report states that the average daily consumption of people who drink alcohol is roughly equivalent to two glasses (each of 150 ml) of wine, a large (750 ml) bottle of beer or two shots (each of 40 ml) of spirit. 

The report also highlights that worldwide, around 27 per cent of all 15 to 19-year-olds are current drinkers. Rates of current drinking are the highest among 15 to 19-year-olds in Europe that is 44 per cent, followed by the Americas (38 per cent) and the western Pacific (38 per cent). 

School surveys indicate that in many countries, alcohol use starts before the age of 15 with very small differences between boys and girls.
 
Worldwide, 45 per cent of total recorded alcohol is consumed in the form of spirits. Beer is the second alcoholic beverage in terms of pure alcohol consumed (34 per cent) followed by wine (12 per cent). 

In an official statement by Dr Vladimir Poznyak, Coordinator of WHO’s Management of Substance Abuse Unit, said all countries can do much more to reduce the health and social costs of the harmful use of alcohol. 

“Proven, cost-effective actions include increasing taxes on alcoholic drinks, bans or restrictions on alcohol advertising and restricting the physical availability of alcohol. Higher-income countries are more likely to have introduced these policies, raising issues of global health equity and underscoring the need for greater support to low and middle-income countries,” said Dr Poznyak. 

According to the report, almost all (95 per cent) countries have alcohol excise taxes, but fewer than half of them use other price strategies such as banning below-cost selling or volume discounts. The majority of countries have some type of restriction on beer advertising, with total bans most common for television and radio but less common for the Internet and social media.

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