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2.6 million drinkers die annually due to alcohol consumption – WHO

Nigeria to attain WHO maturity level 4 in Q1 2024

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 2.6 million individuals die yearly as a result of alcohol consumption.

The world apex health body stated this on Tuesday in its latest report on alcohol and health, adding that alcohol causes nearly one in 20 deaths globally each year, through drunk driving, alcohol-induced violence and abuse, and a multitude of diseases and disorders.

In 2019, 2.6 million deaths were attributed to alcohol consumption, according to the latest report. This figure accounted for 4.7 per cent of all deaths worldwide that year while close to three-quarters of those deaths were in men.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General stated that substance use severely harms individual health, increasing the risk of chronic diseases, and mental health conditions, and tragically resulting in millions of preventable deaths every year.

Abuse of  alcohol, the report said, makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, Human Immune Virus and pneumonia, and it is linked to a slew of health conditions, including cirrhosis of the liver and some cancers

“There has been some reduction in alcohol consumption and related harm worldwide since 2010.

“The health and social burden due to alcohol use remains unacceptably high,” Ghebreyesus said.

According to the WHO, the highest proportion of alcohol-attributable deaths in 2019 is 13 per cent which is among people aged 20 to 39.

Of all the fatalities it caused in 2019, the report found that an estimated 1.6 million were from noncommunicable diseases.

Of these, 474,000 were from cardiovascular diseases, 401,000 from cancer and a huge 724,000 from injuries, including traffic accidents and self-harm.

An estimated 209 million people lived with alcohol dependence in 2019 — 3.7 per cent of the global population.

The report further stated that total per capita consumption globally decreased slightly to 5.5 litres of alcohol in 2019 from 5.7 litres nine years earlier.

However, alcohol consumption overall is unevenly distributed around the globe.

Europe accounted by far for the highest levels of per capita drinking, at 9.2 litres, followed by the Americas at 7.5 litres.

The lowest consumption was in predominantly Muslim countries in Northern Africa, the Middle East and Asia, the report added.

Among people who drank alcohol in 2019, the report determined they consumed 27 grammes of pure alcohol per day on average which is roughly equivalent to two glasses of wine, two small bottles of beer or two shots of spirits.

The international health body, however, warned that “this level and frequency of drinking is associated with increased risks of numerous health conditions and associated mortality and disability.”