My take to Parliament on the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2023.
Like Dr. Kalema David usually says, “alcohol is an extraordinary product”, I highly agree with him.
Photo credit: UAPA
- In Uganda, alcohol is so easily accessible compared to any other drug, which makes it the most dangerous! When I speak of accessibility, my eyes begin from how I see it being displayed on the billboards, radios, television stations, newspapers, internet, cultural functions like the introduction ceremonies, our homes where we stay, general merchandise shops in our communities amongst others.
- The damage that comes from alcohol use and abuse impacts and affects each and everyone of us, right from the primary consumer all the way to the top-most levels of the community we live in; Uganda! Take it from me; alcohol harm doesn’t respect conventionality in terms of age, religion, status in society, finances, sex, gender, societal expectations and demands etc. The primary consumer will struggle and live with all these non-communicable conditions like hypertension, diabetes, joint pains, body swelling, looking ram shackled, restlessness, road crashes among others while the society they live in will over time ostracize the person living with the alcohol use disorder as well as part with their taxes to pay for the medication and rehabilitation of this individual! (We are already wailing in sorrow about the very many potholes and now, we want to add on individuals living with an alcohol use disorder on our list of burdens and expenses?)
- Many of us aren’t fully aware and conscious of the nature and level of damage that close proximity to alcohol brings to us. For example, treatment of the basic level of an alcohol use disorder will have you parting with millions of shillings (at least 2 million shillings per month, for a start) that most of us Ugandans don’t have in stock! That aside, if you are successful in completing your tour of rehabilitation, there is really no guarantee that you will completely stay away from alcohol or any other drug. Many people find themselves back to where they started from, in the vicious cycle of alcohol harm!
- The false trap of the taxes and revenue it generates is so seductive to the national planners but so deadly to all of us. Remember the lack of boundaries alcohol has, I mentioned in my second reason above?
- The number of billions of Uganda shillings alcohol brings in are so few compared to what it costs us daily and will take at individual level and community level. I implore you to think about the cost we incur in terms of medication, joblessness, domestic and gender-based violence, road crashes, jail and imprisonment, extremely low levels of productivity, poor planning and development, cultural degeneration, high rates of school dropouts among others with what the URA collects!
Photo credit: UAPA
All I (Ntensibe Edgar) am asking for in my take of those 500 words above or so, is to properly regulate alcoholic drinks in Uganda and the industry where it all starts from.
The more regulated it is, the better we are prepared for whatever may come our way either financially, socially, morally, psychologically, and otherwise!