Alcohol is common denominator, symposium told

National, Normal

The National – Wednesday, February 16, 2011

ALCOHOL use and abuse is the common denominator for prevalence of trauma and lifestyle diseases, says emergency physician and coordinator of emergency department Dr Sam Yockopua of the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) yesterday. 
Dr Yockopua said that during the second day of the “Alcohol Abuse” symposium that trauma is no accident but was a direct result of domestic violence, physical violence, falls, and domestic accidents.
A data review from the hospital’s emergency department presented trauma with 20-25 % while life-style diseases at 25%, at the surgical admissions 40% recorded for trauma while in medical admission 50% life-style diseases.
He said the cost of trauma had so much effect on the PMGH daily and that included access to health care, distance and time, lack of equipment and consumables and the lack of manpower.
According to a mortality review he presented in 2007, of the 531 deaths at PMGH, he said the five leading causes of deaths are trauma having 80, tuberculosis with 67, asthma/ COPD with 47, AIDS 46 and heart attack/stroke at 34.
Trauma deaths recorded at PMGH were caused by RTA (25%), interpersonal violence (24%), criminal attacks (15%) and others.
Yockopua showed in his presentation that K2,000 to K10,000 was needed to manage a traumatised victim in hospital. In comparison to someone with malaria or pneumonia the cost was less than K500.
“We can see that trauma consumes more resources,” he said.
He also said that alcohol causes significant costs: cost of lives, cost of chronic illnesses and disabilities, financial cost to the victims and cost to the tax payers to provide care.
“There is a need to develop primary health/preventative medicine active participation in conjunction with various stakeholders. And drink driving must be stopped at all cost,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Ludwig Nanawar of Laloki Psychiatric hospital revealed that over 50% of patients have comorbid substance abuse, mainly alcohol and marijuana.
According to Nanawar, over 50% of annual admissions over the past five years were readmissions and, over two- thirds of causes of readmissions were attributed to substance abuse (alcohol and marijuana).
“The cost involved in keeping one patient is approximately K14.87 per day or K6,214. 76 per year, and that excludes repatriation cost.”
“Substance misuse has been shown to be associated with increased psychiatric admissions, violence, suicidal behaviour, poor treatment outcome, severe illness course and high service utilisation,” he said.
He says the challenge here in PNG is the lack of trained manpower and treatment facilities in dealing with drugs and alcohol issues.