Excessive alcohol consumption a concern in BVI

By Natasha Lettsome
The ministry of health and social development in the British Virgin Islands has joined the Healthy Caribbean Coalition in raising awareness of the harmful abuse of alcohol.
The Coalition declared Friday, November 18, as Caribbean Alcohol Reduction Day and it was observed under the theme “Misuse of Alcohol is a Bigger Problem than You Think”. The purpose of the day is to sensitise the people of the Caribbean to the harmful effects of the abuse of alcohol, and to encourage them to drink less and live better.

In a message issued by Healthy Caribbean Coalition, “Excessive drinking of alcohol is a major health risk occurring particularly increasingly among the youth. Alcohol is one of the four risk factors contributing to non-communicable diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.”

Coordinator for health promotion services and national focal point for non-communicable diseases, Ivy George said, according to the 2009 STEPS, 34 percent of adults between the ages of 25-64 consume alcohol. The survey also revealed that excessive alcohol use is a concern in the British Virgin Islands especially among men.

Eighteen percent of the all current alcohol drinkers are using alcohol at levels which can be harmful to health. Harmful drinking for males, George explained, was defined as males having had five or more drinks on at least one day in the previous week; and for females, having four or more standard drinks on at least one day in the previous week.

The ministry of health and social development has set up a subcommittee under, National Health and Wellness Advisory Committee to address alcohol and tobacco issues.

The committee, which is led by the ministry of health and social development, is chaired by deputy secretary, Natalie Smith with members of the committee comprised of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, the ministry of finance, BVI Health Services, and the BVI Cancer Society.

Currently the health promotion unit is conducting research to help guide a national population base programme on the reduction of harmful alcohol use in the Territory. The members of the National BVI Health and Wellness Advisory Committee have also raised concerns about the problem of alcohol abuse in the territory.

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