Ambi: Look into alcohol consumption

National, Normal


Parents, communities and civil societies in the country took necessary steps to address the ever-increasing reckless consumption of alcohol and especially homebrew in homes, villages, communities and urban centres by unsuspecting consumers including students.
“The irresponsible consumption of homebrew by young people and mostly students could bring the country to ruins and hamper economic development if parents, communities and civil societies don’t act now to tackle this issue,” social change and mental health principal adviser and consultant psychiatrist Dr Uma Ambi said.
Ambi said while consumption was high, it was important for young people to understand and know the amount of alcohol and its contents in the homebrew.
“It is not a funny story anymore.
“We are attracted to abuse and misuse our knowledge and the outcome can be fatal, at times resulting in death and various irreversible disabilities,” she added.
Ambi, who is also spearheading the development of the country’s first national alcohol policy, said homebrew consumers should know if they were drinking ethanol or methanol and whether it was safe for consumption.
She cautioned that already there had been number of reported deaths related with the consumption of homebrew and parents and members of the community including civil societies must take right actions now to institute remedial steps to educate people on the issue.
“Consumable (safe) alcohol is known as ethyl alcohol or ethanol and is a by-product of a clinical fermentation process.
“Our concerns in homebrewing are whether we are drinking ethanol or methanol (which is poisonous and more harmful than ethanol),” Ambi said.
She added that ethanol abuse and intoxication could equally lead to many medical, physical, psychological and social complications.
Methanol is a clear, colourless flammable liquid with slight alcoholic smell which is made by reacting hydrogen with carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
It is frequently used in production of paints, solvents, vanishes and others.
“Methanol consumption can cause serious health impairments such blindness and eventually death.
“Methanol breaks down in the small intestine into toxic (poisonous) chemicals and causes headaches, dizziness, nauseous feelings, damage to brains and nerves,” Ambi said.
“Other symptoms include leg cramps, blindness, abdominal cramping, speaking problems, fainting episode, breathing problems, asthma symptoms, lethargy, confusion, joint aches and lower back pains.
“It is well recorded in PNG that certain popular spirits sold in outlets have excessive amounts of methanol content.
“This would cause irreparable damage to our vibrant and fragile young society,” Ambi said.