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Alcohol main cause of mental problems: Haufiku

WINDHOEK, 19 APR (NAMPA) – Alcohol and substance abuse are the leading causes of mental health problems among Namibia's youth, Minister of Health and Social Services Bernard Haufiku said.
Haufiku said this in the National Assembly last week while responding to questions by Members of Parliament on his ministry’s N.dollars 6 514 579 000 allocation from the N.dollars 62,5 billion National Budget for the 2017/18 financial year.
He said he noted during a visit to the Oshakati State Hospital recently that at least 80 per cent of male patients aged between 23 and 29 in the mental ward there were affected by mental illnesses as a result of alcohol and drug abuse.
“Alcohol is the main contributing factor to social problems in society and among young people; it heavily affects mental health,” said Haufiku.
He emphasised that as much as the ministry is required to deal with mental health patients, the main action is to combat alcohol abuse in communities.
“These people abuse alcohol and drugs, yet come to the hospital to use up Government resources including expensive mental health medication, while as a nation we can avoid this problem by combating alcohol abuse,” Haufiku said.
He called on Government to close down liquor outlets like sheebens in residential areas.
Haufiku further noted that operating hours of liquor outlets in informal and urban areas should be the same to stop people moving from one outlet to another.
He also stressed that people lose their lives every day because of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
Haufiku urged Government to develop and enforce stricter laws including immediately arresting a person found driving drunk.
“People will not listen to counselling and campaigns on road safety, but they will listen to the punishment if implemented,” he emphasised.
The MoHSS identified some programmes under which its budget was allocated:
Curative and clinical health care services – N.dollars 5 435 029 000
Health system planning and management – N.dollars 862 941 000
Public health – N.dollars 92 201 000
Developmental social welfare – N.dollars 18 108 000

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