Alcohol Responsible for 3.3 million Deaths Worldwide
The latest World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health estimates that harmful use of alcohol is responsible for 3.3 million deaths a year. The report provides alcohol consumption profiles for 194 WHO member states, looking at the resulting impact on public health. Eastern European countries dominate the top ten, with Belarus (17.5 litres per person per year) and the Republic of Moldova (16.8 litres) the two countries with the greatest alcohol consumption.
The average global consumption figure is 6.2 litres of pure alcohol per person per year. Once adjusted for the fact that only 38% of the world’s population drinks alcohol, that figure rises sharply to 17 litres. In the UK, consumption between 2008 and 2010 was 11.6 litres of pure alcohol per person.
The report also highlights differences between socio-economic groups when it comes to alcohol consumption. Dr Shekhar Saxena, director for mental health and substance abuse at WHO, explained, “Lower-income groups are more affected by the social and health consequences of alcohol. They often lack quality health care and are less protected by functional family or community networks.”
Research has found that some countries are strengthening measures to protect the population from harmful drinking, including increasing taxes and regulating marketing. The report though is clear that more needs to be done to combat the problem, particularly in certain areas of Europe. Earlier this year, a study found that a quarter of all Russian men die before their mid-fifties, with excess alcohol consumption the most common reason for premature deaths.
You can download a copy of the WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health here