Participants at a national forum on alcohol, drugs and mental health in Ghana have called on the citizenry to help in the education of the public on the negative health impact of alcohol intake and its related problems on society.
The forum was organised jointly by the Alcohol Policy Alliance-Ghana (GhanAPA) in collaboration with West Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (WAAPA) on Thursday, to throw light on Alcohol Policy in Ghana, which was developed in 2016 and the stage it has reached.
Participants were from the National Health Insurance Authority, Mental Health Authority, Narcotic Control Commission, and civil society organisations.
According to research by the National Road Safety Authority (NRSA), “Driving after drinking is deadly and illegal in Ghana. Yet, it continues to happen in the country. If you drive while impaired, you could get arrested, or worse – be involved in a traffic crash that causes serious injury or death,” the NRSA said.
It said in Ghana, the alcohol limit for driving was 0.08 per cent blood alcohol concentration (BAC), adding, however that even a small amount of alcohol can affect driving ability.
It stated that men are nine times more likely to be involved in drunk-driving related crashes than women.
The NRSA said: “Having formal education is a protection against episodic drinking among drivers in Ghana. The likelihood of drunk-driving is significantly higher among drivers with no formal education compared to drivers with basic education.”
It stated that the study revealed that drunk-driving incidence among commercial drivers is 41 per cent lower compared with private car drivers.
It said it would intensify the road safety education to sensitise the public on the implication of alcohol intake while driving and called for more arrests, prosecutions, and longer prison sentences by amending the Road Traffic Act.
It said in the long term, there was the need to review the legal BAC limit downwards from 0.08 per cent to 0.05 per cent in conformity with the WHO recommendation.
Mr Benjamin Anabila, the Chairman of GhanAPA in an address said the WAAPA, which is a member of Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA) advocated for alcohol policy in six countries who are members of the alliance namely; Ghana, Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
He said a Technical committee on alcohol was set up to work on a legislation and based on that GhanaAPA decided to take up and facilitate the work of the committee and has done so from 2019 till date.
He stated: “It is refreshing to state that the committee has finished its work, submitted it to the Ministry of Health and a validation meeting was organised to validate the legislation so, therefore, we are looking forward to its submission to the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General.
Mr Anabila said the United Nations on Drugs and Crime and the World Health Organisation have now classified alcohol as drugs instead of food and that the forum was an important aspect of the GhanAPA campaign project to educate and disseminate information on alcohol and its effect to reduce the harm associated with it.