This was stated by Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, at a National Alcohol Policy Workshop, held at the Medallion Hall Hotel in St Andrew, on July 7.
“We are here as ministries, departments, agencies, and civil society to put heart and mind, expertise and experience together to tackle yet another formidable behavioural risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the harmful use of alcohol,” said the Minister.
He pointed out that through various stakeholders, the Ministry plans to implement the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations for the reduction of the harmful use of alcohol as well as implement a social marketing campaign designed to discourage harmful use of alcohol, and raise public awareness, especially among the youth, about alcohol-related health risks, including cancer.
Quoting statistics related to the use of alcohol by adolescents, the Minister said that alcohol remains the most widely used substance among adolescents.
“Approximately 10 per cent of the students interviewed reported getting drunk an average three times… and 12 per cent of the students reported consuming five or more alcoholic beverages,” Dr. Ferguson added.
He said the Ministry will also strengthen the capacity of health-care services to deliver prevention and treatment interventions for hazardous drinking and alcohol use disorders.
Meanwhile, International Consultant with the WHO and the Pan American World Health Organisation (PAHO), Dr. Jurgen Rehm, cited a number of health risks associated with alcohol abuse.
These include cardiovascular diseases, such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke and haemorrhagic stroke; a number of cancers, such as female breast cancer, esophageal and nasopharyngeal cancer, and gastrointestinal diseases, like liver cirrhosis and pancreatitis.
Spanning three days, the workshop will see a number of presentations from Ministry of Health officials and representatives from WHO and PAHO.
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