Monday, February 25, 2013
Vietnam - Alcohol abuse hurts future generations
VietNamNet Bridge – As alcohol abuse increases, health experts warn that the habit could take a devastating toll on future generations.
Drinking consistently and heavily for many years affects both the quantity and quality of a man's sperm, said Dr. To Vinh Ninh from the HCM City-based Gia Dinh People's Hospital.
Not only does alcohol damage liver cells that make protein during the sperm production process – "directly causing sterility" – but it also heightens the risk that children will suffer from mental and developmental disorders.
Ninh said about 45 percent of the childless couples who came to the hospital's Germ Technology Centre for treatment were there because the husband was an alcohol abuser.
"We tell them that before trying anything else, the husband must give up alcohol for at least six months. Then the treatment can continue," Ninh said.
About 35-40 per cent of former male drinkers can father children, he added, although they would have to undergo a strenuous treatment lasting four to five years.
Those who fail to find success using this method often opt for artificial insemination – if they can afford the technology, which comes with a price tag of more than VND30 million (US$1,400).
When expectant mothers abuse alcohol, this can have equally devastating effects, leading to significant developmental disorders such as speech impairment and facial deformities, Vo Don, head of the General Mental Ward of the HCM City 115 People's Hospital, told the Tuoi tre (Youth) newspaper.
The amount of alcohol and beer consumed by people over 15 has more than doubled since the early 2000s, from 1.6 litres of alcohol and 10.4 litres of beer per month in 2000 to 4.1 litres of alcohol and 22 litres of beer per month in 2008, according to a Ministry of Health report.
In 2002, 46 per cent of males and 1.9 per cent of females in the country reported drinking alcohol; however, by 2008, that rate increased to 79.9 per cent and 36.5 per cent, respectively.
The report also said that 60 per cent of domestic violence cases and 6 per cent of accidents were caused by drunk men. Moreover, as many as 15 per cent of sick beds in mental hospitals were occupied by people suffering from neurosis caused by alcohol abuse.
National policy on alcoholism
The Ministry of Health has submitted a national policy on preventing alcohol abuse to the Prime Minister for approval.
Under the policy, both beer and hard alcohol would be taxed more heavily, people would not be allowed to buy alcohol of any sort after 10pm and alcohol and beer trading enterprises would be banned from hiring employees under 18 years of age.
Schools would also be asked to include information on alcohol's harmful effects in the curriculum.
A national steering committee on preventing alcohol abuse will be set up with the participation of relevant ministries such as health, industry and trade and public security.
The committee will implement a plan for the 2013-20 period.