Alcohol Use Disorders (76) The role of the alcohol industry (8) Alcohol consumption in different countries

21 February, 2024

Dear HIFA colleagues,

In this discussion we have learned about alcohol consumption in Uruguay, Malawi, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Indonesia:

1. Uruguay has the highest per capita alcohol consumption in the region of the Americas... alcohol control policies are weak. (Eduardo Blanco, Uruguay)

2. This is an older study (2008) among the student population in Malawi that found that almost 50% of male students qualified as ’suffering’ from alcohol related disorders. (Amelia Taylor, Malawi)

3. In Ethiopia, the national survey (DHS 2016) showed that the burden is up to forty-six percent in the community. (Abenezer Dereje, Ethiopia)

4. In Nigeria, the steady rise in the consumption of alcohol (and drugs) has been linked with rising crime, violence and public disorder. (Joseph Ana, Nigeria)

5. This period saw a 57.14% increase in consumption [in Indonesia], though the levels remained low. (Jum'atil Fajar, Indonesia)

These snapshots are really helpful for us to collectively understand the problem.

I would like to invite other HIFA members to share their observations about alcohol consumption in their country.

Also, what is the role of the alcohol industry in different countries?

We saw in our previous NextGenU-supported discussion on Tobacco last year that industry is focusing more and more on persuading people in LMICs to smoke, as people in HICs abandon the product. Is something similar happening with alcohol?

What policies does each country have to defend its public health? LMICs may have weak policies on alcohol control, driven partly by alcohol industry lobbying. What examples do we have of the alcohol industry influencing legislation?

Even if they have robust national policies, there may be a huge gap between the written policy and the situation on the ground. This gap is likely to be largest in LLMICs, where there are few resources to implement policy. For example we heard from Joseph Ana that there is poor enforcement of drink drive laws on alcohol in Nigeria, because of a lack of breathalysers.

The net effect is that the alcohol industry is able to act in LLMICs in ways that are no longer possible in HICs. This could have devastating consequences on public health in LMICs as they face a huge and increasing non-communicable disease burden with very limited healthcare resources.

We look forward to read your comments. Please send email to:

Many thanks, Neil

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of HIFA (Healthcare Information For All), a global health community that brings all stakeholders together around the shared goal of universal access to reliable healthcare information. HIFA has 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting in four languages and representing all parts of the global evidence ecosystem. HIFA is administered by Global Healthcare Information Network, a UK-based nonprofit in official relations with the World Health Organization. Email: