Alcohol Use Disorders (77) Alcohol consumption in Zimbabwe

22 February, 2024

Alcohol Use in Zimbabwe: A Closer Look

Alarming statistics from the World Health Organization's 2018 Global Alcohol status report shed light on the pervasive issue of alcohol misuse, a significant risk factor affecting global population health and directly impacting several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Zimbabwe, unfortunately, finds itself on the high end of the spectrum for years of life lost due to alcohol-related causes, painting a grim picture of the nation's health landscape.

Key Findings:

1. Youth Binge Drinking: Shockingly, 54.1% of Zimbabwean youths who consume alcohol engage in binge drinking, reflecting a troubling trend in adolescent alcohol consumption.

2. Alcohol Use Disorder: More than 11% of Zimbabwean men grapple with alcohol use disorder, highlighting the pervasive nature of alcohol dependency among males in the country.

3. Per Capita Alcohol Intake: Zimbabwean men exhibit an alarmingly high per capita alcohol intake, averaging a staggering 33 liters per individual, underscoring the extent of alcohol consumption within the population.

Insights into Youth Alcohol Consumption

A comprehensive 2022 study conducted by UNICEF and local partners delved into the complex dynamics of drug and substance abuse among Zimbabwean adolescents and young adults. The study revealed troubling statistics:

- Prevalence: Among youths, 41% of girls and 59% of boys reported alcohol, drug, and substance abuse, signaling a pervasive trend across gender lines.

- Substances of Choice: Cannabis emerged as the most commonly abused substance, with 67% of respondents admitting to its use, followed by cough syrup (47%), crystal meth (36%), and other illicit substances.

- Root Drivers: The report identified various social and economic factors driving substance abuse, including parental loss, poverty, absenteeism, broken homes, and social influence, highlighting the multifaceted nature of the problem.

Consequences of Substance Abuse:

The ramifications of alcohol and substance abuse extend far beyond individual health, permeating various facets of Zimbabwean society:

- Violence and Crime: Substance abuse contributes to 70% of gang violence among school children and 15% of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases involving adolescents and young people.

- Mental Health Crisis: Substance abuse is implicated in 40% of suicide attempts among youths and 60% of school dropouts, underlining the urgent need for targeted intervention and support mechanisms.

The findings underscore the urgent need for concerted efforts from policymakers, healthcare professionals, and civil society to address the root causes of substance abuse and implement effective prevention and intervention strategies to safeguard the well-being of Zimbabwe's youth and mitigate the broader societal impact of alcohol misuse.

HIFA profile: Enock Musungwini is a distinguished public health professional, health management consultant, and development practitioner currently serving as a Programme Manager (Consultant) for an NGO called Pangaea Zimbabwe under the Wild4Life Health program responsible for program management, oversight, supervision, coordination, and leadership. He holds an MSc in Public Health with a Research award from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), achieved under the prestigious British Chevening scholarship (2018-19 cohort). His educational background also includes a Master’s in Business Administration, BSc Hons in Psychology, Diploma in Nursing Science, Diploma in Public Relations and Communication, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Health Management and Leadership. Enock actively serve as a Reference Group Committee member for the Africa Evidence Network, Steering Committee member for the International Network for Government Science Advice Africa Chapter, member of the Consortium for Universities of Global Health and Country Representative for Healthcare Information for All (HIFA).

Enock has received numerous accolades including being appointed Brand Ambassador and receiving the Growth and Innovation award for Pangaea Zimbabwe (June 2023), Country Representative of the Year by HIFA (April 2023), Chevening Volunteers Gold Award by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (June 2019), and the Zimbabwe Achievers Chairman’s Award (Nov 2019). His academic excellence is reflected in awards such as the Amanda Jacklyn Berger Prize for his MSc Research project by LSHTM (Feb 2020) and the Marie Stopes Clinics Champion Award (Jan 2017). Enock's dedication to personal development led to his nomination for Ten Outstanding Young Persons in Zimbabwe under the Personal Improvement Category by Junior Chamber International (Oct 2019). Enock Musungwini has made presentations at national, regional, and international conferences and contributed significantly to public health discourse through his blogs and opinion pieces on various topics.