It might be true that alcohol advertisements bring in a whopping R39 billion annual revenue for the country, the industry creates jobs and has a few other benefits but, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said yesterday, those facts ignored the R39bn it took to clear up the mess caused by alcohol and the protection of basic human rights.
Speaking to participants at a school health conference at Unisa, the minister said 70 percent of accidents in the country were alcohol-related, a problem the country could get out of if effort was made.
He said: “Alcohol creates jobs, but it also causes havoc.”
Motsoaledi lamented the criticism and complaints that followed state plans to ban the advertising of drinking and smoking. “Despite the evident problems we suffer as a country - when I talk about this an avalanche of questions follows, with people saying it will affect jobs, etc.”
“What about human lives?”
Motsoaledi, who had been invited to talk on the conference theme “School health and education: an integrated approach”, talked about the planned National Health Insurance and its school health system, which targeted the 12 million children in schools across the country.
The programme, he said, focused on five areas, including conducting oral, dental, sight and hearing tests for all children starting school. Immunisation, alcohol and drug discussions and teenage pregnancies also form part of this programme. “Teenage pregnancy is very high, and it is followed by abortions. It (also) has HIV implications,” he said.
Motsoaledi also talked about the quadruple burden of disease faced by SA and said the NHI was designed to tackle this problem by strengthening primary health care which eliminated the cause of the problem. The health system was burdened by high HIV and Aids, high maternal and child mortality, the explosion of non-communicable diseases and violence and injuries.