Thursday, October 22, 2020

‘Alcohol can add to the enjoyment of life’

“Consumed responsibly, alcohol beverages add to the enjoyment of life for the overwhelming majority of consumers. In addition to bringing social pleasure, alcohol may provide physical health benefits for some people, when consumed in moderation.”

This is an excerpt from a brochure that was recently released by the Botswana Alcohol Industry Association (BAIA), in which they warn about the dangers of excessive consumption of alcohol.

The booklet is part of BAIA’s corporate social aresponsibility drive, and their continued campaign against alcohol abuse.

However, there is no single definition of moderate drinking. Some say it is drinking that doesn’t cause problems for the drinker or for society. Others say it is drinking within the range that maximises the known benefits of alcohol without substantially increasing the risks.

However, it is a fact that excessive consumption of alcohol has serious health ramifications. These include liver diseases, cancer, pancreatitis, neurological impairment, cardiovascular disease and malignant neoplasms.

BAIA President, Tom Mpedi, explained that the booklet is a demonstration of their commitment to reducing alcohol abuse.

“We will present the booklet to the Minister of Health, and he has indicated that he will facilitate easier distribution to consumers. The booklet will, in future, be translated into Setswana,” he said.

However, it is evident that BAIA’s efforts to fight alcohol abuse are not in tandem with those of government and other stakeholders like NGOs. Concerns have been raised about the discordant and haphazard operations of the concerned stakeholders.

Indications are that, as with the ever increasing alcohol levy, government, as the regulatory authority, is showing intolerance to the alcohol industry traders. As such, their efforts to fight alcohol abuse are not readily embraced by government.

In the end, efficiency and effectiveness are sacrificed because all the stakeholders would have achieved a lot more had they been working together.

BAIA was established by the major producers and distributors of alcoholic beverages in Botswana. These include KBL, BBL, Distel Botswana, Diageo, Heinekken Botswana and Namibia Breweries. It was formed to establish a corroborative framework to counter and reduce alcohol abuse.

BAIA indicated that they are “ready and committed to collaborating with government and other stakeholders to address alcohol abuse”.

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