According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 87,000 deaths are recorded annually from alcohol abuse in Ghana alone which leads to concerns about Ghana’s drinking culture.
Alcohol consumption has been a heavy conversation for many, especially in light of the number of alcohol related deaths in 2019.
The Ministry of Health National alcohol policy outlines the direction of policy, data from the WHO and general research on alcohol consumption and regulation in order to encourage and promote abstinence from alcohol and reduce harmful consumption.
Alcohol consumption is an evident major health issue but how does Ghana’s drinking culture actually compare with the rest of the world? And how can normal people instill actual change?
What is drinking culture?
Drinking culture is not just the act of consuming alcohol but it is all the customs and social behaviour that affect how alcohol is consumed.
Is Ghana’s drinking culture a concern?
A study undertaken by the Public library of science (PLOS) said, “Patterns of alcohol consumption are however reported to be changing with economic development, sociocultural changes and the growth of alcohol industries in recent years in African societies.” The religious and social factors that previously restrained people (especially youth and females) from drinking are now being disregarded.
According to the PLOS, “The type of alcoholic beverage consumed in African societies such as Ghana include locally produced home-brewed beverages with very high alcohol strength and increased health and social consequences.”
Ghana does not have a huge binge drinking culture as present in the UK, Australia and the USA.
In these countries public intoxication is not frowned upon and drinking to get drunk is glorified.
Although Ghana’s drinking culture is lower risk compared to these countries, it is still not a non-issue. Alcohol abuse is considered to be a major obstacle to development and data indicates that its abuse could be a hindrance in achieving 13 of the 17 of the sustainable development goals.
As Ghana is at the forefront of development in Africa, countering a progressing toxic drinking culture, especially amongst youth, is extremely important.
To encourage change, low risk drinking practices should be pushed forward.
Regulation although important, will not stop drinking. A dialogue of drinking to relax or savour flavours rather than drinking to get drunk should be created for those who do engage in alcohol consumption.
Open and healthy discourse around this topic should be encouraged in the media, within households and even in church, otherwise extremities and alcohol abuse are more likely to occur.
By Jewel Owusu|3news.com|Ghana