WHO: Alcohol abuse kills 3 million a year, most of them men

The logo of the World Health Organization (WHO) is pictured on the facade of the WHO headquarters on October 24, 2017 in Geneva. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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WHO: Alcohol abuse kills 3 million a year, most of them men

  • Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28 percent were due to injuries, such as traffic accidents and interpersonal violence
  • An estimated 2.3 billion people worldwide drink alcohol, with average daily consumption of people at 33 grams of pure alcohol a day

GENEVA: More than 3 million people died in 2016 due to drinking too much alcohol, meaning one in 20 deaths worldwide was linked to harmful drinking, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
More than three quarters of these deaths were among men, the UN health agency said. Despite evidence of the health risks it carries, global consumption of alcohol is predicted to rise in the next 10 years.
“It’s time to step up action to prevent this serious threat to the development of healthy societies,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said.
In its “Global status report on alcohol and health 2018,” the WHO said that globally, an estimated 237 million men and 46 million women are problem drinkers or alcohol abusers. The highest prevalence is in Europe and the Americas, and alcohol-use disorders are more common in wealthier countries.
Of all deaths attributable to alcohol, 28 percent were due to injuries, such as traffic accidents and interpersonal violence. Another 21 percent were due to digestive disorders, and 19 percent due to cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes.
An estimated 2.3 billion people worldwide drink alcohol, with average daily consumption of people at 33 grams of pure alcohol a day. This is roughly equivalent to two 150 ml glasses of wine, a large (750 ml) bottle of beer or two 40 ml shots of spirits.
Europe has the highest per person alcohol consumption in the world, even though it has dropped by around 10 percent since 2010. Current trends point to a global rise in per capita consumption in the next 10 years, the report said, particularly in Southeast Asia, the Western Pacific and the Americas.
“All countries can do much more to reduce the health and social costs of the harmful use of alcohol,” said Vladimir Poznyak, of the WHO’s substance abuse unit. He said proven, cost-effective steps included raising alcohol taxes, restricting advertising and limiting easy access to alcohol.
Worldwide, 45 percent of total alcohol consumed is in the form of spirits. Beer is the second most popular, accounting for 34 percent of consumption, followed by wine at 12 percent.
The report found that almost all countries have alcohol excise taxes, but fewer than half of them use other pricing strategies such as banning below-cost sales or bulk buy discounts.


India train disaster toll rises amid anger over safety

Updated 18 min 2 sec ago
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India train disaster toll rises amid anger over safety

  • Many bodies were badly dismembered and police said identification of the victims could take several days
  • The funerals of some victims were held Saturday and the accident brought widespread demands for tough action by authorities

AMRITSAR, India: Around 60 people are now known to have died when a train plowed into a crowd of revellers watching a firework display in India, officials said Saturday.
Dozens more were hurt in the accident, some of them seriously, and overwhelmed local hospitals ran out of space for the dead, forcing them to leave some bodies outside.
The disaster, near Amritsar in the north of the country on Friday, led to new demands for safety reforms to India’s accident-plagued railway system, which records thousands of deaths each year.
Reports said the train hit scores of people who had gathered on tracks to watch the burning of a firework-packed effigy of the demon king Ravana for a Hindu festival.
Police said victims did not hear the Jalandhar-Amritsar express arriving because the noise was drowned out by firecrackers.
Another train had narrowly missed the crowds two minutes earlier, officials said.
Many bodies were badly dismembered and police said identification of the victims could take several days, officials said.
Amritsar’s main hospital did not have enough space in its morgue, and some corpses were laid outside.
Hardeep Singh, chief medical officer for Amritsar, told AFP 59 deaths had been confirmed and 90 people had been injured.
Singh said only 25 bodies had been identified so far.
Media reports said there were 61 dead.
The funerals of some victims were held Saturday and the accident brought widespread demands for tough action by authorities.
Punjab state governor V.P. Singh Badnore said: “Those who need to be punished will be punished and accountability will be fixed.”
A 2012 government report described the loss of 15,000 passengers to rail accidents every year in India as a “massacre.” The government has pledged $137 billion over five years to modernize the crumbling network.
Railway minister Piyush Goyal returned early from a trip to the United States to go to Amritsar on Saturday. Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh called off a trip to Israel to go to the disaster scene.