10 Jun 2014 15:40pm
WINDHOEK, 10 JUN (NAMPA) There is a critical need for African countries to enact legislation aimed at regulating the production, sale and consumption of alcohol in order to arraign the scourge of gender-based violence (GBV), United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator Musinga Bandora said on Tuesday.
He said this during the opening of a three-day meeting titled 'Integrating GBV and HIV prevention, treatment and care into national alcohol policies' in the capital on Tuesday.
The meeting is aimed at discussing the intersection of alcohol abuse, GBV and increased vulnerability from HIV, as well as other health problems.
While alcohol consumption can have some limited medical benefits, its excessive use does negatively impact the social and economic fabric of society.
It is responsible for many health and social hazards, and undermines productivity and constrains national development efforts, he stated.
Bandora noted that alcohol remains a recurring factor in the sexual risk-taking behaviour of individuals, and in the effectiveness of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and adherence to treatment regimes.
The harmful uses of alcohol, HIV transmission and GBV intersect where alcohol fuels sexual violence, and where intoxicated people are vulnerable to sexual abuse and rape, resulting in increasing risks of acquiring HIV.
Data collected on alcohol behaviour, consumption and its impacts and HIV prevalence from 23 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa also showed a close correlation between high alcohol consumption and high HIV prevalence.
What these findings tell us is that this is a serious problem, and that it requires urgent attention. Indeed, while all countries do have policies and are covering the harmful use of alcohol, GBV and HIV, the symbiotic relationship between the three is rarely addressed.
Invariably, these are treated as distinct and separate problems, Bandora noted.
The meeting has brought together health professionals and gender activists from several African countries like Botswana, Tanzania, Lesotho, South Africa and Zambia.
It ends on Thursday.