April 20, 2015 By Alusine Sesay
Director of Health Network Sierra Leone has called on the government to introduce a national policy on the production, distribution and consumption of alcohol to help ameliorate the problem of high consumption of highly potent liquor among young people.
Robert Kondema Kargbo told newsmen in Freetown last Friday that the country has a proliferation of alcohol producing companies that are operating with reckless abandon, producing alcohol without taking into consideration standards; a development he said was harmful to the youth population who are frequent consumers of the products.
In 2013, he said, the organization in collaboration with Standards Bureau urged alcohol producing companies to reduce the content of alcohol to 42% as per World Health Organization standards, but noted that directive has been largely ignored.
“It is a wakeup call on the government to introduce a national policy on alcohol due to the increase in consumption of alcohol among youths,” noted Kargbo. “Many sources have revealed that young people are not properly guided to take the habit of drinking alcohol due to the fact that they lack the knowledge about the content and the long term effect on their health. The level of alcohol content is very high for human consumption.”
Due to the high level of alcohol consumption among young people, he added, the organization had undertaken a research to ascertain whether young people between the ages of 10 and 35 have knowledge of alcohol products in Sierra Leone. He said the research found that 79% of children recognized alcohol while 70% are more familiar with some leading alcohol brands in the country.
He said the organization in 2010 had also embarked on advocacy to reduce the percentage in various alcoholic brews sold in the country with intent to protecting the young population, especially the unemployed and economically vulnerable ones.