Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) Namibia applauds the government of Namibia for the decision to restrict alcohol sales as a public health measure to contain the spread of Covid-19. This step is necessary as government tries to limit the transmission of the more contagious Delta variant.
Alcohol consumption has seen drinkers disregard public health measures such as social distancing and wearing of masks meant to contain the spread of the virus. Since most drinkers use alcohol to socialise, they mainly drink in groups, this makes drinking alcohol a high-risk activity during this pandemic. In addition, when people consume alcohol car crashes and interpersonal violence incidents are high resulting in increased hospital admissions. Our fragile and limited health resources are needed to deal with Covid patients. Government action to secure these limited resources to deal with the health pandemic should therefore be welcomed.
While SAAPA acknowledges that small businesses are impacted by the loss of income as a result of the public health measures put in place, we implore them to put public health first before profit as these measures are for the greater good. SAAPA Namibia thanks those business owners who are adhering to these restrictions for their sacrifice and urges those who are violating these restrictions to consider the impact of the spread of the virus on the community in the long term. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives and children are dying.
SAAPA also acknowledges that people who are addicted to alcohol are struggling. Spending more money on alcohol will reduce the available resources for the household during these challenging times which could lead to more arguments and fights. Drinking cheaply made alcohol or homebrews also has negative health repercussions. To those individuals with an alcohol problem, consider using this time to reduce how much you drink. Seek out organisations that support people with drinking problems. Ask someone you trust to help you get help.
SAAPA urges citizens to consider their actions on the lives of their loved ones. Covid is real. Covid will pass. It is a time that calls on everyone to sacrifice. What do we want for our family or community after Covid? What can we do now to help get us there? As communities, we need to talk about better, consistent regulation so that government do not need to implement such severe actions in the future. We need to partner with government to change how alcohol is advertised and sold. We also need to talk about how we can drink differently so that we have less harm for ourselves and others.
SAAPA also urges government to find ways to support citizens by providing social safety nets within the limited country budget.
*Irene Kauzuu is the Country Liaison Officer for SAAPA Namibia