Lusaka, Zambia | Xinhua | There have been growing calls to raise alcohol prices in the southern African country Zambia where alcohol abuse is sparking worries that it is eroding the moral fibers.
In Zambia, statistics from the country’s only hospital for mental patients have indicated the problem of alcohol abuse. The Chainama Hills Hospital reported early this year that it treated two to three women with alcohol-related mental illnesses every day and about six to seven men.
The Southern Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance is proposing that the price of alcoholic drinks should be high to limit their accessibility and abuse.
Phillip Chimponda, the association’s president says the number of people accessing and abusing alcohol will continue to be high as long as the price remains affordable.
The drinks, he said, are affordable and readily available hence the need to come up with stringent measures to discourage abuse.
However, calls on the authorities to consider raising alcohol prices in order to discourage consumption have received mixed reactions.
While others believe the move is right as it will protect the lives of people, others believe that it will not only hurt firms involved in beer manufacturing but the economy as well.
People have since taken to social media to express their views on the matter, with some opposing the move while others have backed it.
Bwalya Mwewa wrote on Facebook that beer drinking does not merely depend on the price because there are other influencing factors that need to be taken into consideration.
“It is at different levels, you may also wish to know that some people would rather keep on drinking like always and reduce on other expenses like children school fees, household groceries,” he said.
Sam Nawa believes that increasing beer prices will not deter its consumption because people can resort to buying cheaper beers such as locally brewed illicit ones while Anna Mwila believes that this may result in cheap beers from neighboring countries flooding the country.
Sara Maimbolwa says some people abuse alcohol because of mental, economic and social issues, adding that the matter should be looked at from all angles.
But others believe that the call is timely looking at the level of alcohol abuse in the country of late.
“In my area, people start drinking as early as 6 in the morning and how can a country develop like this because most of the people found drinking beer are young people,” Nelson Mwaba, an elderly resident of Chawama compound in Lusaka said.
He has been backed by Wilson Mumba who feels that there is a need for government to take a strong stance on alcohol abuse because it is destroying young people.
Even though alcohol consumption is seen as part of Zambia’s culture for a long time, recent stories of abusing it have continued to raise concerns, especially that most of the people abusing it are young people.
According to a journal on public health, disease surveillance, prevention and control by the Zambia National Public Health Institute, Zambia is one of the African countries with the highest drinking levels.