3,3 million people die worldwide due to use of alcohol

CENEVRE (CIHAN)- In 2012, 3.3 million deaths worldwide were due to harmful use of alcohol, says a new report launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) today.

Alcohol consumption can lead to dependence and also increases people’s risk of developing more than 200 diseases including liver cirrhosis and various cancers.

Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse explained the purpose of the report.

“The report presents information on how countries are trying to cope with the problems of alcohol in its relation to public health and it presents data on how policies are being changed so that the health aspects of alcohol are given more importance than the commercial aspects which obviously can be very different.” – he added.

The report also finds that harmful use of alcohol makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.

“The Global status report on alcohol and health 2014” provides country profiles for alcohol consumption in the 194 WHO Member States, the impact on public health and policy responses.

Report indicates that though the levels of consumption are high in some parts of Europe and in America, in the recent few years they have shown a tendency to decrease.

At the same time in some parts of the world, like in some populous countries of Asia, that used to have low levels of consumption, the trend is for it to increase.

Dr Vladimir Poznyak, WHO’s Coordinator for Management of Substance Abuse identified two ways that alcohol consumption is likely to bring harm to people.

“If we speak about the pathways of harm to health from alcohol consumption then there are several key factors. One is the overall level of consumption, the more people drink, more harm or more risks to their health. The second very important is how people drink, and binge drinking is one of the classical examples when a lot of alcohol is consumed on particular occasions, leading to intoxication, this is linked to many cardiovascular diseases, to many injuries, violence.” – he explained.

Some countries are already strengthening measures to protect people. These include increasing taxes on alcohol, limiting the availability of alcohol by raising the age limit, and regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages.

“Overall, the report shows that the commitment that countries have made, to reduce the harmful use of alcohol by 10% before 2025 are not on track. So the world has to do more if it has to achieve the commitments that it has made.” – said Dr Saxena.

On average every person in the world aged 15 years or older drinks 6.2 litres of pure alcohol per year. But as less than half the population (38.3%) actually drinks alcohol, this means that those who do drink consume on average 17 litres of pure alcohol annually.

The report also points to the fact that a higher percentage of deaths among men than among women are from alcohol-related causes – 7.6% of men’s deaths and 4% of women’s deaths – though there is evidence that women may be more vulnerable to some alcohol-related health conditions compared to men. In addition, the authors note that there is concern over the steady increase in alcohol use among women.

Globally, Europe is the region with the highest consumption of alcohol per capita, with some of its countries having particularly high consumption rates. Trend analysis shows that the consumption level is stable over the last 5 years in the region, as well as in Africa and the Americas, though increases have been reported in the South-East Asia and the Western Pacific regions.

Through a global network, WHO is supporting countries in their development and implementation of policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. The need for intensified action was endorsed in the landmark 2011 United Nations General Assembly meeting, which identified alcohol as one of four common risk factors* contributing to the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) epidemic.


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