Alcohol abuse is a silent killer in Zimbabwe. Every day, families are torn apart by the devastating consequences of alcohol addiction.
Children are left without parents, spouses are left alone, and communities are left to cope with the aftermath of alcohol-related accidents, injuries, and illnesses.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that alcohol is responsible for over 3 million deaths worldwide each year, and in Zimbabwe, the situation is dire.
Urgent action is required to prevent the impending public health catastrophe caused by alcohol.
A paper published in 2002 titled “Drug Use, Abuse and Alcoholism in Zimbabwe” projected that by 2022 alcoholism will be Zimbabwe’s number one social problem. The statistics are alarming, and it’s time for action to be taken before it’s too late.
A report by the WHO Afro titled “Mental health Among Young people in the African Region” raises a concerning statistic, Zimbabwe has the highest number of 15 to 19 year-olds who engage in heavy episodic drinking.
This is a clear indication of the urgent need for measures to curb alcohol abuse among young people.
The heavy drinking among young people has a high potential of leading to a lifetime of addiction, and it’s a time bomb for the future of the country.
The emotional toll of alcohol abuse on families is immeasurable. Parents are left to watch helplessly as their children spiral out of control, and spouses are forced to bear the burden of their loved one’s addiction.
Communities are also impacted by the crime, violence and public disorder that often accompany alcohol abuse.
But there is hope. The Minister of Health and Vice President Constantino Chiwenga and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health have proposed increasing tax on harmful commodities such as alcohol and tobacco to ring fence it to a public health fund.
The draft National Alcohol Policy from 2010 included a provision to change the current tax system to tax alcohol according to the amount of pure alcohol content in a product. The higher the content the higher the tax.
This measure is in line with the WHO’s global alcohol action plan and safer initiative, which emphasises the need for effective policy measures, such as increasing taxes on alcohol, to reduce the harm caused by alcohol abuse.
This measure is an effective way to target products that are more harmful, and it could be a game-changer in reducing alcohol-related harm in Zimbabwe.
It’s time for decision-makers to take action. We cannot afford to wait any longer. The human cost of alcohol abuse in Zimbabwe is too high. By implementing alcohol taxation, we can save lives, families, and communities.
It’s time to put an end to the devastating impact of alcohol abuse in Zimbabwe before it’s too late.
Implementing alcohol taxation is not only a solution to reducing alcohol-related harm but it is also in line with the global efforts to address alcohol abuse and its consequences. It is a step towards a healthier and safer Zimbabwe for all.
It is time for decision-makers to take bold action and implement alcohol taxation as a means to reduce the harm caused by alcohol abuse and to protect the well-being of the people of Zimbabwe.
Tungamirai T Zimonte is the Director for Youths Against Alcoholism and Drug Dependency), a Zimbabwean initiative that strives to raise awareness and educate young people on the dangers of alcohol abuse and drug addiction.