The National – Tuesday, February 15, 2011
By KARI TOTONA
PAPUA New Guinea needs and deserves a safe and secure environment to enable further development.
This was the underlying message from the deputy prime minister and minister for works and transport Sam Abal on the first day of the “Alcohol Abuse in PNG” symposium held at PNGIPA hall in Port Moresby yesterday.
He said that alcohol abuse was the major cause of break down in our society with an unrecorded alcohol consumption rate estimated to be 0.5 litres pure alcohol per capita for a population older than 15 years, after 1995.
He said since he took office as acting PM last December, one of the key things he wanted to address was obstacles to growth and development.
He tasked all ministers and departmental heads to give a list of priority projects for implementation this year. He personally searched to establish the social impediments affecting PNG.
Abuse of alcohol, he said, came out as the number one challenge among young people, along with drugs and poker machines which were and continued to feature in this modern life.
He revealed statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO) global status report of 2004.
They were: the number of fatal road accidents in PNG has risen by more than 400% in 1968-78; post mortem blood alcohol levels were above 80%mg (per) in 42 % of the victims tested and very high levels were found in a third of the drivers; in 1991, 40 % of hospital admissions were alcohol-related; a domestic violence study carried out by the constitutional law reform commission found that 71% of the women interviewed considered alcohol as a major cause of marital problems, of those beaten by their spouse, 26% related the incident to alcohol and others.
“Every minute one person is injured from an alcohol related crash and with alcohol-related economic opportunity cost at K78.5 annually,” he stated.
Abal said that the government would now act swiftly with key interventions to review the following:
* The liquor licensing structure with the provincial governments;
* Appoint a task force to establish the state of alcohol abuse;
* Appoint an alcohol advisory committee to oversee the liquor trading business with appropriate membership to report back to government; and
* Fast track the national alcohol policy presently spearheaded by the health department.
He said statistics indicated a big challenge in the nation and an urgent attention was needed to curb alcohol abuse which affected all sectors in health, education, law and justice and others.