By Rethabile Moshabe
The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) urges members of the public to be extra vigilant as they engage in festive celebrations and avoid high consumption of alcohol.
Christmas and New Year’s holidays are a great opportunity for families and friends to meet. About a third of the region’s citizens accompany festive seasons with alcohol with many drinking till they are drunk, putting themselves and others at risk.
SAAPA Lesotho National Coordinator Mothobi Molefi, speaking in an interview with Informative Newspaper, said they caution the members of the public to be observant at this time of the year, especially on the roads. He advised against drinking and driving, adding that alcohol reduces reasoning and thinking ability which leads to risks that include engaging in unprotected sexual activities.
“Each and every week most of the cars are found overturned alongside the roads and causing terrible accidents because of the use of excessive alcohol. These actions pull our nation back by causing many vitalities, loose of properties and permanent injuries as well,” Molefi stated.
Asked about the measures to be taken against those who do not abide by the rules and regulations of Covid-19, Molefi said globally the countries are anticipating the 4th wave of Covid-19 pandemic and the recently discovered Omicron variant which is highly transmittable. He therefore noted; “According to the set guidelines by the National Covid-19 Secretariat (NACOSEC) people who will be in the public bars must have vaccinated. SAAPA also recommends the public to get vaccinated in order to avoid putting their lives at risk because I do not think that the business owners pay attention to all people present at the bar whether they got vaccinated or not, what they are looking for is money,” he said.
He added that despite the efforts made to sensitize the public on Covid-19 health protocol, most drinkers mainly drink in groups disregarding social distance and mask wearing protocols while some are still skeptic about vaccination. “Social events whether private or public attended by large numbers where alcohol is consumed become super spreader events. For Lesotho this spells disaster as our fragile and limited health resources are needed to deal with Covid-19 and other unavoidable illnesses. Government actions to secure this limited resources to deal with the health pandemic should therefore be welcomed,” Molefi noted.
He said while SAAPA acknowledges people’s freedoms, it urges fellow citizens to follow Covid-19 precautionary protocols, reduce alcohol consumption especially in large crowds and together with government, people’s actions can safeguard each other.
SAAPA is influenced by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol on health which acknowledges that the health of the population contributes to the development. It endeavors to engage respective governments in the region to influence in-country policy development and implementation as well as lobbying for a SADC alcohol protocol that would support in-country policies.