In November 29th 2017 we hosted a regional Alcohol Abuse Conference involving all important stakeholders within Iringa region. The conference was followed by a forum where there was an open discussion on how to deal with alcohol related challenges. The guest of honor was the Regional Commissioner, Madam Amina Masenza.
Alcohol Abuse Conference.
Iringa Region Alcohol Abuse Conference aim to find solutions by involving all the stakeholders who will have answers or are in position to make changes. Invitees include officers from Regional office (health, education, social welfare), doctors from Regional Hospital, officers from Police Force and many others. We started the conference by IDYDC Executive Director Mr Johnnie Nkoma welcoming guests and giving a brief introduction. After Introduction the Chairman of the Board welcomed guest of honor to give the blessings and open the conference.
Word from Regional Commissioner
In an opening speech Regional Commissioner touched through many areas that are affected by alcohol directly and indirectly. As the statistics show Iringa is one of the three regions with high HIV prevalence rates in Tanzania. Unfortunately in recent days the gender violence and child abuse cases have also risen within the region. Although Iringa is one of the large food producers it also have malnutrition and stunting children problem. All these problems are related to alcohol production and consumption.
Participants were urged to come up with resolutions that will help tackle these problems. IDYDC can share the experience from areas where the alcohol program is implemented and other stakeholders can contribute on how to use that experience in other areas.
Doctors from Iringa Regional Referral Hospital gave presentation on how alcohol contributes to mental health problems and noncommunicable diseases NCDs. People are not aware that alcohol abuse can lead to many problems and these are largely caused by lifestyle of alcohol drinkers. Drunk driver can cause an accident where those who get head injuries or that trauma can cause mental problems. Alcohol is associated with many diseases, liver diseases, heart problems, brain damage are some of them.
Mr Kimiro from Tanzania Network Against Alcohol Abuse TAAnet gave a presentation on policy making. His presentation based on important things to consider when making a policy related to Alcohol emphasizing on using data when advocating for policy. Participants also got to know what is TAAnet and what role does it play in fight against alcohol abuse.
Need for Alcohol National Policy
From the discussions a lot of issues were raised, some were cleared but others need further actions. It was observed that we already have laws that somehow help to reduce access of alcohol but these laws are not followed. Opening and closing times and selling alcohol far from places where children are found, these are things that the authority can deal with. Doctors requested that people who are taken in custody by police for alcohol related cases should be referred to them for counselling.
From all the issues raised the conclusion was that we need a National Policy on Alcohol which will be the guideline to mitigate alcohol related problems. The forum agreed that as a region we should use Member of Parliaments to push this agenda to the Parliament and make it a national issue. Other government official should lobby where they can to make sure that we get a Policy in order to protect the coming generation.
Mean while issues that are within the Regional authority will be solved and IDYDC will take the responsibility to make follow up.