The World Health Organization or WHO has issued a warning that more than three million people ended up dying from using alcohol in 2012, for reasons ranging from cancer to violence. More needs to be done to limit the damage of alcohol and protect the population from negative consequences of alcohol consumption. WHO has called on governments to start the process to reduce the negative impacts.
Oleg Chestnov, who is a WHO expert on chronic disease and mental health added that there is “no room for complacency”, and something must change. He also warned that drinking too much kills more men than women and that excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk and exposure to more than 200 different diseases. In 2012, extensive alcohol consumption killed 3.3 million people in the world.
According to the WHO report, on average, every person in the world 15 years or older drinks 6.2 liters of pure alcohol per year. Yet because less than half the population or roughly 38.3 percent actually drinks. This means that those who do drink, end up drinking an average of 17 liters of pure alcohol a year.
Shekhar Saxena, a director for mental health and substance abuse at the World Health Organization has touched on the subject of binge drinking, saying that worldwide about 16 percent of all drinkers engage in something called “binge-drinking”. This type of drinking has been found to be the most harmful to health. However the biggest impact on health is the socio-economic status and access to health care. Poor people are generally more affected by social and health consequences of alcohol, and they often lack quality health care. They are also less protected by familiar and community networks, which leads to greater risk of death from alcohol consumption.
The global status report on alcohol and health covered 194 countries and looked at alcohol consumption, its impact on public health and policy responses. The report found that some countries are already increasing measures to protect people from harmful effects of drinking. These measures often include increased taxes on alcohol, limited availability of alcohol, raised age limits and regulation of alcohol marketing.
In order to prevent the dangers of alcohol, the World Health Organization encouraged more countries to take similar action. WHO recognized that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the damage alcohol can do to people’s health and screening for those who may need intervention to cut down or stop on alcohol consumption must be done earlier.
Compared to the rest of the world, Europeans consume the most alcohol per person. Some of the European countries have particularly high rates of harmful drinking. This includes Russia where, according to a study published earlier in the year, a quarter of all men die before reaching their mid-fifties. The cause of death is usually excessive drinking. Some men in that study had reported drinking an astonishing three or more bottles of vodka a week.
While outlining the dangers of excessive drinking, the World Health Organization had also said that global trend analyses show that drinking has been stable over the last five years in Europe, Africa and the Americas. However, the trend is growing in South East Asia and the Western Pacific and something must be done to curb excessive drinking in those regions.
By Ivelina Kunina