Hamdan Medical Journal

: 2019  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 234--235

Harmful use of alcohol: A global public health priority

Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava1, Prateek Saurabh Shrivastava2,  
1 Vice Principal Curriculum, Member of the Medical Education Unit & Medical Research Unit, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Harmful use of alcohol: A global public health priority.Hamdan Med J 2019;12:234-235

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Harmful use of alcohol: A global public health priority. Hamdan Med J [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Oct 23 ];12:234-235
Available from: http://www.hamdanjournal.org/text.asp?2019/12/4/234/248019

Full Text

Dear Sir,

The harmful use of alcohol has been acknowledged as one of the most potential predisposing factors for the health of the general population across the globe and is also directly related to many health-related targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.[1] In fact, the global estimates suggest that more than 5% of the overall deaths have been attributed to the harmful use of alcohol in the year 2016.[1],[2] Moreover, it is quite striking that almost 14% of the alcohol-attributable deaths are in the age-group of 20–39 years, which indirectly affects the economic development of the nation.[1],[2] The precise estimate of alcohol use among residents of the Middle East nations is not clear, but in a study done in Iran, it was found to 5.7%.[3],[4] It is due to the presumptions in the region that alcohol consumption and the associated problems are quite rare and due to religious restrictions, the exact prevalence of the disease is not known.[3],[4]

On the social front, the death of the earning member results in a disastrous impact on the dependent family members.[1] In addition, millions people, their families and society have to bear the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol in the form of accidents, abuse, mental and behavioural illnesses and development of diseases (viz. cancer, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, etc.).[1],[5] Furthermore, the findings of school surveys have indicated that even before attaining 15 years of age, students started to consume alcohol, and to everyone's surprise, not much difference has been observed between boys and girls.[2],[5]

The findings of a recently released report by the World Health Organization have depicted the holistic picture of alcohol consumption and the attributed diseases, along with the measures which nations can implement to reduce the burden.[1],[2] It has been estimated that more than 2.2 billion people worldwide are current-drinkers, while 283 million people suffer from alcohol-use disorders, which in turn is quite common among developed nations.[2],[6] Moreover, it has been anticipated that, if no measures are taken promptly, the global consumption level is set to increase even further in the next decade, including in the Middle East nations.[1]

Considering the target that each of the nations across the globe has to accomplish a 10% reduction in the relative consumption of alcohol on an annual basis to achieve some public health benefit, there is an immense need to implement innovative solutions.[1],[2] As a matter of fact, many proven and cost-effective measures are already available, including prohibition of advertisement, increase in the tax amount on alcohol products or even minimising the availability of the products, nevertheless on the implementation front, the majority of the nations have not shown better results.[1],[2]

Furthermore, there is a definitive need for collaborative measures by nations through involving all the concerned stakeholders in a team-based approach.[1] At the same time, effective international governance and augmentation in the awareness activities will also play a remarkable role in reducing the burden of the alcohol-attributed diseases.[2] In addition, there is a significant need to generate, collect and disseminate the information on alcohol consumption, dependence and attributed consequences in all the Middle East nations.[1],[2]

In conclusion, the harmful use of alcohol and its associated health and social consequences is a global public health priority. Thus, it is high time to develop an action plan to reduce the medical and non-medical expenditures attributed to the harmful use of alcohol.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.


1World Health Organization. Alcohol – Key Facts. World Health Organization; 2018. Available from: http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/alcohol. [Last accessed on 2018 Sep 27].
2World Health Organization. Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2018. Geneva: World Health Organization Press; 2018. p. 1-24.
3Alizadeh S. Limitation of studies on food intake and dietary pattern in Iran and other Middle East countries: Lack of alcohol intake assessment. Nutrients 2017;9. pii: E1183.
4Amin-Esmaeili M, Rahimi-Movaghar A, Sharifi V, Hajebi A, Mojtabai R, Radgoodarzi R, et al. Alcohol use disorders in Iran: Prevalence, symptoms, correlates, and comorbidity. Drug Alcohol Depend 2017;176:48-54.
5Samadi S, Baneshi MR, Haghdoost AA. Pattern of alcohol consumption among men consumers in Kerman, Iran. Addict Health 2017;9:139-45.
6Mons U, Gredner T, Behrens G, Stock C, Brenner H. Cancers due to smoking and high alcohol consumption. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2018;115:571-7.