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Alcohol consumption and its effects in Malawi

There is limited data on the extent to which alcohol is a problem in Malawi. In 2009 a nationwide STEPS survey (MoH & WHO) showed that of people aged 24 to 64, 30.1% of males and 4.1% of females consume alcohol while 19.2% and 2.3% males and females respectively are considered heavy drinkers.

Evidence from the same STEPS survey does show that Non Communicable Diseases such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes are a growing problem /challenge in Malawi. Currently the Ministry of Health is not collecting any data on the health related problems directly associated with alcohol. Information from Malawi Police Service through unpublished reports shows that alcohol plays a significant role in crime in the country.

The WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol & Health 2014 indicates that 42.6% of male and 40.2% of female deaths from liver cirrhosis were linked to high alcohol intake. 11.6% male and 1.3% female victims of road accident deaths were as a result of alcohol.

A2011 report shows that alcohol was linked to 25% in murders, 40% of suicides, 27% of road traffic accidents, 7% of sexual; assault cases and 38 percent of physical assault cases.  The ALMA Study (Fighting Poverty through alcohol misuse prevention in Malawi) conducted by SINTEF Technology and Society of Norway in collaboration with the Centre for Social Research of the University of Malawi 2011 -2013, revealed that although few people consume alcohol in Malawi (14% of the population) the few consume alcohol excessively and thus putting the country among the highest consumers in Southern Africa.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism excessive alcohol consumption or binge drinking is defined as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to 0.08% or more. This pattern of drinking usually corresponds to 5 or more drinks on a single occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on a single occasion for women, generally within about 2 hours.