SOUTH Africa plans to ban alcohol advertising in a bid to rein in violence fuelled by excessive drinking, the health minister says.
With one of the world’s highest crime rates, the country attracts foreign experts “just to learn to deal with wounds of injury and violence because we are regarded as a laboratory for that”, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.
“The driving factor behind this is alcohol, the harmful effects of alcohol. We’re not going to pull back about the issue of alcohol control, including the banning on advertising of alcohol.”
“It’s just a matter of time — it’s not an issue of whether, it’s an issue of when,” he added.
Violence and injuries are the top killer in South Africa after HIV, Mr Motsoaledi told delegates at a World Health Organisation (WHO) conference on violence prevention.
About 3.5 million people are treated for injuries annually in an already overburdened public system, he said.
“If saving our people earns us a title of being a nanny (state), I very much welcome that title,” Mr Motsoaledi said.
The WHO is looking at ways to reduce levels of violence, which it says places a huge strain on health systems.
South Africa ranks 52nd among the world’s heaviest drinkers, according to the WHO, and is one of the world’s most violent societies with 46 murders per day and high levels of rape.
WHO director of violence prevention Etienne Krug said the consequences of violence went beyond death and injury and led to problems like disabilities, mental health issues and sexual infections.
“Violence is one of the biggest public health problems in the world,” he said, saying it did not get “even one per cent” of the attention given to other major challenges.
“HIV kills 1.7 million people a year. Violence kills 1.5 million.”