Four out of every 100 people who lost their lives in Kenya in 2016 did so as a result of alcohol abuse, the most recent report on the subject says.
The report released by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday also shows that alcohol consumption has become alarmingly routine among minors.
Use of illicit brews commonly referred to as “changaa” or “kumi kumi” remained predictably high, at 37 per cent of all the alcohol consumed.
In Kenya, the prevalence of alcohol use disorders was at 4 per cent, that of alcohol dependence at 1.4 per cent, and that of harmful use of alcohol at 2.6 per cent of the entire population.
WHO says the overall burden of disease and injuries caused by harmful use of alcohol is unacceptably high.
And it is worried that the alcohol pandemic is preventing affected populations from achieving a number of health-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including those for maternal and child health, infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases and mental health, injuries and poisonings.
“Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries (including road accidents), mental health problems, poisoning and diseases like cancer and stroke,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO, in a press release sent to newsrooms. He adds: “It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies.”
The report also considers the disease burden attributable to high-risk alcohol use. Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28 per cent were due to injuries, such as those from traffic crashes, self-harm and interpersonal violence; 21 per cent due to digestive disorders; 19 per cent due to cardiovascular diseases, and the remainder due to infectious illnesses, cancers and mental disorders, among others.
Around the world, according to the analysis by WHO, more than three million people died as a result of alcohol use. This means one out of any 20 deaths reported that year around the globe was as a result of an alcohol-related malady.
Of all these deaths, more than three quarters were among men. Globally, an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol-use disorders.
ut startlingly also, worldwide, more than a quarter, or 27 per cent of all 15—19-year-olds, are current drinkers.
For Kenya, the survey found that there was prevalence of heavy episodic drinking among 14 of all 100 15-19 year olds.
The data contained in WHO’s Global Status Report on alcohol and health 2018, says research is now showing that generally the harmful use of alcohol causes more than 5 per cent of the global disease burden.
According to the report, Kenyans above the age of 15 recorded a total alcohol per capita consumption (APC) of 3.4 litres in pure alcohol. That is to say that every single Kenyan (including those that do not drink) above the age of 15 imbibed those many litres of pure alcohol in 2016 — the year under study. This translates to 14.1 litres of pure alcohol for drinkers only.