Doctor: Alcohol rooted in society

National, Normal

The National, Thursday, May 5, 2011

ALCOHOL consumption remains deeply rooted in many societies, including Papua New Guinea, Dr Uma Ambi says.
Ambi is chairperson of the Social Change and Mental Health Services Committee of the Department of Health and has drafted the first national policy on reducing alcohol-related harm for the government.
“Historically, alcohol consumption has been part of social and cultural events, however, the abuse of alcohol has contributed to social disorder within families and communities,” she said.
“On a more serious level, it (alcohol abuse) is associated with mental disorder, suicide and non-communicable diseases such as cancers and even suicide.
“Alcohol abuse in PNG has prompted health authorities to take action to reduce the harm it causes,” she said.
“The policy is not to ban alcohol but specifically look at addressing the health impacts caused by alcohol abuse.
“Some of the strategies outlined in the policy include advocacy on the harmful use of alcohol in high risk areas and public places, establishing national, provincial and district drug and alcohol units to provide health care to victims of alcohol abuse,” she said.
“Through the policy the committee will coordinate, monitor and evaluate programmes and activities carried out by stakeholders and partners according the memorandums of agreement or understanding signed.”
In a committee meeting last October, Health Minister Sasa Zibe backed the work of the committee.
Zibe acknowledged the problems created by alcohol abuse and vowed to work together with the committee to address the issue.