Alcohol Biggest Medical-Social Problem in Karamoja-Medics

2046 Views Moroto, Uganda

In short
According to Dr. Nsubuga, alcohol is now the third leading cause of deaths in Karamoja standing at 11 percent.

Excessive alcohol has proven to be one of the biggest medical-social problems in Karamoja sub region, according to medics. Statistics in Matany Hospital, a leading missionary  health facility in the region where most patients are referred to indicate that a number of patients reporting use of alcohol increased from 4,109 in 2017 to 6,103 by June 2018. 

The statistics also show that the number of patients admitted because of alcohol abuse directly or indirectly has increased by 25%. Dr. John Bosco Nsubuga, the Medical Superintendent, Matany Hospital, says alcohol has direct effects, which include acute alcoholic intoxication while the indirect effects include brawls, domestic violence, traffic accidents and attempted suicide.

According to Dr. Nsubuga, alcohol is now the third leading cause of deaths in Karamoja standing at 11 percent. "The Liver disease due to alcoholism (excluding liver disease due to hepatitis B) is the 3rd top most cause of death at 11%. The first is pneumonia (18%) followed by TB (12%). Liver disease due to alcoholism has the third highest fatality rate," Dr. Nsubuga notes.

A report by development partners and health experts indicates that in 2017 58 percent of the people in Karamoja drenched themselves in alcoholism and drunkenness. The figure tripled the 17 percent national average on alcohol consumption in the same year.

In Abim district, about three percent of the patients reporting for treatment at health facilities take alcohol, according to Dr. Anthony Okengo.  He cites Nyakwae Sub County and Abim town council as some of the leading alcohol consumers in the district. Dr. Okengo says some people have died due to alcohol related conditions.

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Andrew Rews Ilukol, the Acting Moroto District Health Officer, says most people have taken advantage of lower prices of alcohol to drench themselves in drinking. He notes that worst affected are mining sites in Kosiroi and Tapac Sub Counties where alcohol has replaced food. 

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The Karamoja Affairs Minister, John Byabagambi recently revealed that alcoholism had proven a big burden to both government and partners in Karamoja. He observed that some people are not able to do any productive work or even save because all they earn is spent on buying alcohol. 

The Trade and Cooperatives issued a circular to ban waragi sachets by September 30th, 2017. However, the ban was lifted in another circular signed by the Trade Minister, Amelia Kyambadde on March 30th, 2017.