Alcohol abuse crisis must be made an elections issue

Dear Editor,

Please permit me to make a little contribution in relation to the topical issue of alcohol abuse in the society and my  impulse to being proactive on the subject has been recently recharged having  heard the Opposition Leader complaining about alcohol usage in Parliament, an editorial in one  of the leading dailies, Caitlin Vieira’s the Psychologist and You (Sunday 19th and Sunday 26th August 2018) and now a definitive study reported by AFP (Paris, France)  done by lead researcher Max Griswald at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington.

 Let me say for the record at the outset that to date I am not a teetotaller.

Firstly in my humble opinion Guyana is already inundated by alcohol and alcoholics so I see no need for our  law making institution, the Parliament to  store/sell or encourage the consumption of this product in that hallowed institution. So come on legislators if you really need this stuff please go to bars and clubs etc. One question for the former President or Speakers or indeed Parliamentarians: was alcohol served or available in Parliament at any time before in our history?  I would be grateful for this clarification since the impression I get from reading what is written in the press is that this phenomenon is of recent vintage!

I think this  alcohol abuse crisis must be made an elections issue and  I would  like to hear clear views and opinions from all potential  Presidential Candidates  so we can see if principles will trump politics. Over to you erstwhile Ladies and Gentlemen!

Caitlin Vieira has made it clear in her  contributions that alcohol is a most dangerous drug and must be seen in that light. To our Czars of the beverage industry including manufacturers, distributors and importers if you disagree with her please make  your submissions public  for  us to see clearly both sides of the argument if indeed there is any justification to contradict. I urge Ms. Vieira and others of similar ilk to launch a pressure group to bring legislation similar to the tobacco bill to arrest this runaway problem of alcohol abuse.

While I understand the general thrust of Ms Vieira’s article of Sunday August 26th 2018 in Paragraph 4   I do disagree with her conclusion. She says “If someone drinks every day it does not necessarily mean that they have a problem with alcohol. For example, I know many people that have one glass of wine or beer with dinner, there isn’t anything wrong with that.” Firstly I would counter her first statement and say that it does not necessarily mean that they DO NOT have a problem. Her second conclusion seems to be based on just casual opinion and on what may be practised commonly in this and other societies. But Ms. Caitlin Vieira I now draw your attention to the conclusions of a leading world expert Max Griswald  who is the lead author for 500  experts in the field and his conclusions  ostensibly contradict yours!

Paris (AFP) – Even an occasional glass of wine or beer increases the risk of health problems and dying, according to a major study on drinking in 195 nations that attributes 2.8 million premature deaths worldwide each year to booze.

“There is no safe level of alcohol,” said Max Griswold, a researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle, Washington and lead author for a consortium of more than 500 experts.

Despite recent research showing that light-to-moderate drinking reduces heart disease, the new study found that alcohol use is more likely than not to do harm.

“The protective effect of alcohol was offset by the risks,” Griswold told AFP in summarising the results, published in medical journal The Lancet on Friday.

“Overall, the health risks associated with alcohol rose in line with the amount consumed each day.”

Compared to abstinence, imbibing one “standard drink” — 10 grammes of alcohol, equivalent to a small beer, glass of wine or shot of spirits — per day, for example, ups the odds of developing at least one of two dozen health problems by about half-a-percent, the researchers reported.

Editor, last year two  Senior Government Ministers Mr. George Norton and Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan pronounced on this matter, publicly indicating that  serious measures must be taken to curb this problem in Guyana. To date as far as I am aware nothing tangible has been done (except for the 2 am curfew). Come on Sirs let’s not be people who just talk, be bold  and responsible enough to initiate and sponsor bills to deal with this most dangerous problem which clearly is the cause for many homicides, cases of domestic abuse, accidents on the road and industrial accidents etc.

We have just had the case of an alcohol addict burning down his wife’s home because she refused to give him $500 to buy himself a drink!!! What  are we waiting for?

I now ask Senior Minister of Public Health Mrs .Volda Lawrence (now PNCR Chairperson, congratulations in order!)  to bring this matter to the fore as the subject Minister and I think  this will be a real feather in her cap if she can bring alcohol sale /usage/control legislation into the Parliament by November 30th 2019 . Surely this is achievable in one year.

Namaskar,

Yours faithfully,

Christopher M. Persaud

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