Alcohol and drug abuse has become a public health concern in Namibia, with stakeholders calling for enforcement of a comprehensive framework of policies to effectively tackle alcohol and drug harm in the country.
Recent data from the Southern Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) Namibia indicate that close to 4 000 people died as a result of drunkenness, while 38 908 injuries were recorded in the past five years up to 2019.
This is a big concern considering the small population size of Namibia. SAAPA called on SADC countries to work together to address this public health issue.
In this regard, SAAPA Namibia liaison officer Irene Kauzuu called on the government to regulate and enforce the alcohol policy to reduce the severity of the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, and drugs.
“Namibia is battling the Covid-19 pandemic and amid these election campaigns, every political party was feeding their supporters with alcohol and some fellow Namibians are having misconceptions that the pandemic is gone,” she said.
She said the Namibian alcohol policy is dormant and needs to be enforced.
Kauzuu emphasised that Namibia aims to build capacity in terms of alcohol policy gaps and structural challenges and lobby for alcohol policy change.
SAAPA is a thriving network which currently has representation in seven countries in the SADC region.
“Covid-19 ushered in a new phase of lobbying for evidence-based alcohol policies not only in Namibia but the entire Southern Africa. Namibia did well and zero crimes were reported during the state of emergency and the curfew interrupted criminal activities,” she stated.
But concerned about the approaching festive season, she said alcohol is no ordinary commodity so people should say no to alcohol, and drug use.
SAAPA Namibia is also pleading with the government to ban alcohol advertisements on television and reintroduce a curfew during the Christmas period, as well as encourage the public on sober habits and living lifestyles free from alcohol and drug use.
“If the ban on alcohol reduced crime and harm during Covid-19 lockdown period, why not during the festive season or for it to become a Namibian new norm for 2021?” asked Kauzuu.
Namibian police chief Sebastian Ndeitunga said the idea by SAAPA is worth support and he advised that the alcohol and drug abuse policies should be visited.
Ndeitunga said he is concerned about the trading hours for alcohol and they must be regulated. He further alluded that most crimes of rape and killing stem from alcohol outlets and during late hours.
“Abolish special licences given to restaurants – they are not necessary. At least by 10pm every day all alcohol outlets should be closed with exception of hotels. Alcohol is the major [factor] of all crimes in Namibia and if we want to control it, it must be regulated properly,” said Ndeitunga.