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Alcohol Kills More People Than AIDS, Violence Combined: WHO

Alcohol consumption overall is unevenly distributed around the globe, with well over half of the world's population over the age of 15 abstaining completely.

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A pint of beer is poured into a glass in a bar in London, Britain, VOA
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Alcohol kills three million people worldwide each year — more than AIDS, violence and road accidents combined, the WHO said Friday, adding that men are particularly at risk.

The UN health agency’s latest report on alcohol and health pointed out that alcohol causes more than one in 20 deaths globally each year, including drink driving, alcohol-induced violence and abuse and a multitude of diseases and disorders.

Men account for more than three quarters of alcohol-related deaths, the nearly 500-page report found.

Alcohol
An infographic from the World Health Organization about the effects of alcohol on health worldwide. VOA

“Far too many people, their families and communities suffer the consequences of the harmful use of alcohol through violence, injuries, mental health problems and diseases like cancer and stroke,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

“It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies,” he added.

Drinking is linked to more than 200 health conditions, including liver cirrhosis and some cancers.

Alcohol abuse also makes people more susceptible to infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV and pneumonia, the report found.

Alcohol
Middle-aged adults must have ‘drink-free’ days: UK health body. Pixabay

The some three million alcohol-related deaths registered globally in 2016 — the latest available statistics — account for 5.3 percent of all deaths that year.

In comparison, HIV/AIDS was responsible for 1.8 percent of global deaths that year, road injuries for 2.5 percent and violence for 0.8 percent, the study showed.

The latest numbers are lower than those in WHO last report on global alcohol consumption, published in 2014.

There are “some positive global trends,” the agency said, pointing to shrinking prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and of alcohol-related deaths since 2010.

Alcohol
Alcohol is linked with 7 cancers.

But it warned that “the overall burden of disease and injuries caused by the harmful use of alcohol is unacceptably high,” especially in Europe and the Americas.

Globally, an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol use disorders, WHO said.

Also Read: There’s No Healthy Level for Consuming Alcohol, Lancet Study Confirms

Alcohol abuse affects nearly 15 percent of men and 3.5 percent of women in Europe, and 11.5 percent of men and 5.1 percent of women in the Americas, it pointed out.

Alcohol consumption overall is unevenly distributed around the globe, with well over half of the world’s population over the age of 15 abstaining completely. (VOA)

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Road Traffic Accidents Cause 1.35 Mn Deaths Each Year: WHO

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

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Traffic Crashes, Road Traffic
Two bikes were involved in an accident with a bus that crashed and turned on its roof near the town of Franschhoek, South Africa, March 7, 2015. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) is calling for urgent action to put a brake on road traffic crashes that kill 1.35 million people every year, mostly in poor developing countries.

In Geneva, the U.N. agency launched its global status report on road safety 2018.

The report found road traffic injuries to be the leading killer of children and young people aged five to 29 years, with a death occurring every 24 seconds. The report said more than half of those killed are pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcycle riders and passengers.

Etienne Krug, head of the U.N. Agency’s Department on Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention, called these deaths a huge inequality issue.

Traffic Signals, Road Traffic
Traffic and congestion on roads is frequent in all cities of India. Wikimedia

“Low-income countries have one percent of the vehicles in the world and 13 percent of all the deaths; while high-income countries have 40 percent of all the vehicles,” Krug said. “So, that is 40 times more, but only seven percent of the deaths.That is half of the deaths with 40 times more vehicles.”

The report said death rates are highest in Africa and lowest in Europe. Some of the key risk factors include speeding, drinking and driving, and failure to use seat belts, motorcycle helmets and child restraints.

Krug said putting the right measures in place will save lives. These include the right legislation and enforcement, creating special lanes for cyclists and improving the quality of vehicles.

Road accidents in India
Road accidents in India. Pixabay

“It is not acceptable that vehicles are being sold in developing countries that look the same as the vehicles that we see here in Switzerland or the U.S. or anywhere else, but that are not,” Krug told VOA. “Because to make them cheaper, they have been stripped of all of their safety features, such as air bags or electronic stability control, etc.”

WHO noted that 48 middle- and high-income countries that have implemented strong road traffic laws and other safety measures have made progress in reducing road deaths.

Also Read: HIV Epidemic Spreading Rapidly in Pakistan: WHO

However, it said no such progress has been made in low-income countries where safety measures are lacking. (VOA)