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WHO alerts on rise in alcohol-related deaths

A man drinking alcohol

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised the alarm on the rise in alcohol-related deaths globally.

It said that alcoholics die through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke.

According to WHO’s global status report on alcohol and health 2018 released at the weekend, more than three million people died as a result of harmful use of alcohol in 2016.

This represents one in 20 deaths. More than three-quarters of these deaths were reportedly among men.

Overall, the harmful use of alcohol causes more than five per cent of the global disease burden.

Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28 per cent were due to injuries from traffic crashes, self-harm and inter-personal violence; 21 per cent due to digestive disorders; 19 per cent due to cardiovascular diseases, and the remainder due to infectious diseases, cancers, mental disorders and others.

The report presents a comprehensive picture of alcohol consumption and the disease burden attributable to it worldwide.

It also describes what countries are doing to reduce this burden.

Despite some positive global trends in the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and number of alcohol-related deaths since 2010, the overall burden of disease and injuries caused by the harmful use of alcohol is unacceptably high, particularly in Europe and America, it added.

Globally, an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol use disorders, with the highest prevalence among men and women in Europe (14.8 per cent and 3.5 per cent) and America (11.5 per cent and 5.1 per cent).

Alcohol use disorders are more common in high-income countries, the report noted.

Director-general of WHO, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, said: “Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke.

It is time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies.

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