Botswana: Alcohol Intake Declines

Gaborone — The Alcohol Levy has resulted in a decrease in alcohol consumption in Botswana to around seven litres of pure alcohol per capita in 2011/12 from eight litres in 2008.

This was revealed by Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Alfred Madigele at the launch of consultations on the campaign to reduce alcohol related harm in Gaborone yesterday (July 30).

Dr Madigele said although the levy played a major role in bringing down consumption figures, the contribution of other interventions such as the Alcohol Campaign, reduction in liquor trading hours should not be discounted.

Quoting a study undertaken by BIDPA in 2017 to evaluate the national interventions against alcohol abuse in Botswana, he said whilst the measures continued to decrease alcohol consumption, current policies and regulatory framework had not been very effective.

He said ths was due to implementation challenges ranging from poor coordination, inadequate institutional structures and administrative challenges.

Dr Madigele said the review of the Botswana National Alcohol Policy conducted in collaboration with WHO and UNDP in 2017 also identified some gaps in mainstreaming HIV/AIDS, Gender Based Violence and Non-Communicable Diseases in the policy.

As a result, Dr Madigele said the ministry would revise the policy in order to incorporate other areas affected by alcohol.

He pointed that there were calls to reconsider existing strategies to align them with the WHO Regional Strategy to Reduce Alcohol Related Harm of 2017.

"The main arguments of this are that the campaign may have been more punitive rather than behaviour change oriented which has resulted in job losses in the alcohol industry and also in the entertainment industry without significant achievement of outcomes such as reduced drinking and driving and accidents due to drunken-driving," he said.

Dr Madigele said his ministry had to accommodate views from other stakeholders and individuals.

"It is in this vein that a national dialogue is being commissioned precisely to review the current strategies and come up with a high impact national strategy which will be based on objectives such as; reducing the risk of alcohol use, minimising the impact of harmful use of alcohol, regulating the accessibility and availability of alcohol among others," he noted.

Giving a presentation on the evaluation of the National Intervention against Alcohol Abuse, BIDPA's Professor Patrick Malope recommended that the policy be reviewed so that it was in alignment with the Ministry of Health and Wellness where it has since been transferred.

He also called for the review of the base for calculation of the levy with the view to make local producers competitive against foreign low cost producers.

Professor Malope stressed that policy responses should be research and evidence based adding bench marking with advanced economies should be encouraged.

The ministry would deploy teams across the country between August 12 and 30 to solicit ideas and proposals from the general public and key stakeholders.

These, he said would be consolidated into a report to be sanctioned by cabinet and duly implemented for the benefit of all Batswana and those mostly affected by negative effects of alcohol abuse.

Source : BOPA

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