The Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), has called on the government to prioritize cancer prevention by implementing an alcohol taxation policy to reduce the deaths as a result of alcohol consumption.
It also urged the government to support awareness creation among the citizenry on the prevention and control of alcohol consumption amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr Labram Musah, a Director at VALD in a statement to commemorate World Cancer Day which fell on February 4, and copied to the Ghana News Agency said alcohol consumption was a leading risk factor for cancer.
He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that if the trend of alcohol consumption continued the world would see a 60 per cent increase in cancer cases over the next two decades.
Mr Musah said an estimated 81 per cent in new cases would occur in low-and middle-come countries, including Ghana where survival rates were currently lowest.
He said tobacco with a cancer risk factor of 18 per cent, alcohol was the second leading cause of cancer, infections of three per cent; followed by physical inactivity.
“Alcohol has been the cause of cancer since the 1980s but public awareness and policy action has been very low,” he said, adding that alcohol-related cancer causes 650,000 deaths every year,” Mr Musah said.
He said the preventive strategies best suited to reduce the alcohol-related cancer burden were alcohol taxation, alcohol availability regulations and alcohol advertising bans.
“Evidence shows that informing people, increasing awareness and highlighting alcohol’s cancer risks will lead to alcohol control measures and reduce the cancer burden and mortality.
Mr Musah said in Ghana it was estimated that 76.6 per cent of Ghanaians aged 15 years and above were either lifetime abstainers or have abstained from drinking alcohol in the past 12 months and that; “This means that 23.3 per cent of this population (aged 15 years and above) take alcohol.
He said public awareness on causes of cancer was low as compared to other communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS while alcoholic advertisements were aired on television, radio and online portals without in-depth education on the results of the consumption.