Uganda: Butabika Welcomes Law On Alcohol

Mark Willingham Uncategorized

Uganda: Butabika Welcomes Law On Alcohol

allAfrica

By Lilian Namagembe

October 13, 2016

Kampala — Butabika National Mental Health Referral Hospital has come out in support of the proposed Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2016 which aims at consolidating all alcoholic-related laws and set tougher sanctions on alcohol consumption.

The Bill, a private members’ initiative, spearheaded by Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze and tabled in Parliament last month has since attracted mixed reactions from the public.

Dr David Basangwa, the executive director Butabika hospital, said uncontrolled consumption of alcohol is the major cause of rampant mental illness cases among Ugandans.

“If something has an impact on the lives of the people, it needs a law to regulate it. Once one takes alcohol in smaller quantities, it would not have any effect on their life. The problem is alcohol abuse which needs to be regulated,” Dr Basangwa said.

Butabika hospital, on a daily basis, receives about 150 patients with mental illness cases which the hospital attributes to alcohol and drug abuse leading to increased spread of HIV/Aids, which also affects the brain leading to mental illness.

Dr Basangwa said: “People should not look at the law as one that has come to bar the consumption of alcohol but as one that has come to prevent abuse of alcohol.”

The Bill provides that “the sale of alcohol shall also not be to persons under the age of 18 and, therefore, an offence for a person to purchase an alcoholic drink for another person he or she knows or has reason to believe is below 18 years of age or to allow an underage person to access premises where alcoholic beverages are stored, sold or consumed. The punishment will be 10 years in prison or Shs20 million or both.”

Government and other civil society activists have also come out of recent to support the proposed Bill as a good initiative.

According to Dr Sheila Ndyanabangi, the principal medical officer of mental health and control of substance abuse at the Health ministry, the Bill if passed into law will reduce government expenditure on alcohol-related diseases.