Alcohol consumption a major contributor to serious health issues in the Solomon Islands.
The reported high consumption of alcohol in the Solomon Islands, and especially the very high consumption of the illegal home brew, known locally as kwaso, is causing serious health issues to the population, including –
- High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems
- Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
- Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.
- Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
- Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.
- Alcohol dependence or alcoholism.
Excessive alcohol most often the result of binge drinking brings about the following:
- Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drowning, and burns.
- Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
- Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
- Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex .These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
- Miscarriage and stillbirth among pregnant women.
Renewed efforts must be made by the authorities responsible to stamp out the unlawful manufacture and sale of home brew and moderation must be called for in the consumption of alcohol, even if licensing and selling of alcoholic drinks have to be curtailed.
Such enforcement measures will not be easy for many that persist with home brew and sale of kwaso maintain they do so to supplement their living expenses, including school fee payments.
The strain on the National Referral Hospital (NRH) and the medical services generally is increasing due to the health issues that heavy drinking brings about and coupled with unhealthy diets and lack of physical exercise.
The health and social consequences of over-indulgence in alcohol, and kwaso, will worsen unless the current trends are reversed and soon.