Mkhize: Alcohol consumption in SA 'matter of concern'

Mkhize: Alcohol consumption in SA 'matter of concern'

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has elaborated on Cabinet's ban on the sale of alcohol.

Zweli Mkhize
Image courtesy: GCIS

On Monday afternoon, Mkhize presented a data-driven presentation at the National Coronavirus Command Council media briefing.

This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa's address to the nation on Sunday night, where he announced an immediate ban on liquor sales.

Mkhize says when alcohol was banned - there was a drop of between 60 to 70 percent of in alcohol-related hospital visits.

Compared to the easing of Level 3 regulations which saw a surge in admissions.

READ: Adjusted Level 3 regulations published: Here's what you need to know

Mkhize says it's estimated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that 31% of South Africans - 15 years and older engage in drinking. He says they are concerned.

"We are one of the countries that drink the most in the WHO AFRO region at 64.6 g of Absolute Alcohol per capita per day-that is about 5 and 6 standard drinks of 12 g absolute alcohol (or 15 ml) per day.

"This is important because it's higher, the average the other countries is 40 grams per drinker per day. That is a matter of concern and it's a record. 

"Almost 6 out of 10 (59.0%) of drinkers over the age of 15 in South Africa are reported to engage in High Episodic Drinking- better know as "binge-drinking.

"Some modeling was done to predict the impact of an alcohol ban: in these models it was demonstrated that the re-introdution of an alcohol ban could result in 20% reduction of all trauma and 40% reduction of all alcohol-related trauma by the third week," says Mkhize. 

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The South African Liquor Brandowners Association (SALBA) says its disappointed with government's decision.

SALBA says they were not consulted about the move.

The association's CEO Kurt Moore says the industry recognises the risk to balance lives and to maintain livelihoods.

He says there needs to be a clearer understanding of alcohol-related trauma.

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