Tuesday, November 13 2018

VietNamNews

Counting the cost of alcohol issues

Update: November, 09/2018 - 10:00
In 2016, the average Vietnamese person over 15 years old drank 8.3 litres of pure alcohol, a statistic which reveals alarming levels of alcohol consumption in the country. — Photo anninhthudo.vn
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — The Government of Việt Nam spends about VNĐ65 trillion (US$2.79 billion) dealing with the consequences of alcohol each year, while alcoholic beverage firms contribute roughly VNĐ50 trillion ($2.14 billion) to the country’s economy, a health official revealed.

Nguyễn Huy Quang, head of the Legal Affairs Department under the Health Ministry, said at a conference yesterday that the consumption of alcoholic drinks in Việt Nam had reached alarming levels. In 2016, on average, a Vietnamese person over 15 years old drank 8.3 litres of pure alcohol.

As much as 42.2 per cent of male drinkers and 1.2 per cent of female drinkers partake in heavy episodic drinking. In other words, they have consumed at least 60 grammes of pure alcohol on at least one occasion in the past 30 days.

Quang said alcoholic drinks not only had negative impacts on the economy, but also on road safety and human health.

In Việt Nam, drink driving is one of three major causes of traffic accidents. Alcoholic drinks cause countless accidents and illnesses.

“High consumption of alcoholic drinks poses a big barrier for Việt Nam to realise its sustainable development goals by 2030,” Quang said.

In 2015, Việt Nam and other 153 countries across the world adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Việt Nam committed that by 2030 it would reduce its under-70 mortality rate due to non-communicable diseases by 20 to 25 per cent through prevention, treatment and promotion of mental health and wellbeing.

It also committed to strengthening the prevention and treatment of substance abuse including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.

Quang clarified that Việt Nam committed to reduce the ratio of people participating in heavy episodic drinking by 10 per cent by 2030.

“The Law on Alcohol Harm Prevention is needed and will be a strong tool that helps Việt Nam implement these goals,” Quang said.

 Today, the bill was included in National Assembly’s agenda.

Presenting at the conference yesterday were local and international organisations such as UNICEF, the World Health Organisation (WHO), HeathBridge Canada and the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance – a network of non-governmental organisations and people working in public health agencies that share information on alcohol issues and advocate for evidence-based alcohol policies free from commercial interests.

The organisations called on the Government of Việt Nam to implement WHO recommendations for alcohol harm prevention and control.

They expected Việt Nam to ensure scientific objectivity and benefits for people’s health and national sustainable development when developing alcohol laws.

According to the Health Ministry, in the last three years, it received contributions from six organisations to the bill on alcohol harm prevention. — VNS

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