Alcohol drinking is becoming a normal behavior in Liberia. Businesses have been diverted from other essential goods to the sale of alcohol. Those beverages are sole at a minimum price to the extent that it is affordable for someone who cannot buy a cup of rice. This risky behavior has grave health and social implications that have been ignored or overlooked by many actors and citizens. As a result, tragic motor accidents have been reported while others accumulate the adverse effects of this substance over time, resulting into early deaths and complications.
Entertainment centers are opened to the public around 6 p.m. through 4 a.m. each day. Liquor bottles sold in those shops cost as low as five bottles for US$5. Small club beers are sold in some areas seven (7) for US$5. Worst, people make queue to buy hot liquors, stand on their feet to satisfy their thirsts for said substance just because they are “cheap” and easily accessible. The question is: are they aware of the short and long term effects alcohol has on them? Certainly, not.
Alcoholism, especially in extreme cases has been associated with fatal motor accidents, violence against self and others, crime such as rape and chronic illnesses. Females who drink excessively are prone to be raped because some become more sensitive to sex while other lose control of their environment. Moreover, preventive measures taken during sex under normal conditions (no alcohol) are ignored to the greatest extent. Hence, it increases individual’s risk for contracting Sexually Transmission Diseases (STIs) such as AIDS, gonorrhea, syphilis, etc.
Also, it damages the liver, leading to what Liberians call “yellow Jaundice.”
Among other unknown deaths due to or influenced by alcohol intake are the two incidents that prompted this article.
In July this year, a young Liberian, who went through the struggle at the Cape Coast University in Ghana, lost his life along with two others while on his way from an “outing.” The fact that he died because of alcoholism was not established by scientific means due to the relative lack of sophisticated devices to detect the level of alcohol consumed. Nevertheless, a bystander ascertained that his death was primarily due to the fact that he was “drunk and driving.” He was a young guy who graduated with a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in irrigation engineer. Even though he is dead and gone, the vacuum he created within his family and the country remain unclosed. He can’t be replaced by anyone in his family, even the psychological challenge he posed on his close friends will live with them. As some extended birthday wishes to him on
November 14, 2016 saying: Happy birthday Partner. You will surely be missed. RIP.
Still in the state of grief, another young, determine and educated Liberian lost his life due to same. On December 7, 2016, a man who studied Etymology at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana, and teaching at the Cuttington University agriculture department died in a tragic motor accident along with others on his way from a nightclub in Gbarnga, Bong County. Expressing frustration, his students explained: Life oh life!!! U r really uncertain life…??? Matriculation is on Sunday and u r not around daddy… What become of all the plans we had my youngest Etymologist??? The General, the students best friend Where r u??? You was one of my greatest motivation. U have putting too much pain in our hearts…We r crying, CASD is crying, Cuttington University is crying!!!!
Questions that keep coming up in my head as I write this article are: what are the roles of law enforcement in the sale of alcohol beverages and speed control? What mechanism is the Liberia Business Registry (LBR) putting in place to help reduce the numerous so called “entertainment centers” in and around town? What is the role of the commerce Ministry especially when it comes to alcohol importation charges? Is it also due to the increase in advertisement of alcoholic beverages on television and other social media? Is it a coping mechanism for young and promising Liberians who have struggled to pursue higher education but still remain unemployed? Or if employed, salaries are not commensurable?
Relating to the two incidents mentioned above, it is obvious that so many of these fatal deaths due to alcohol intoxication happened in the “dark” – meaning it happened under cover or not recorded or made public – those cases were unearthed primarily because of the author’s connection with them as graduate schoolmates.
The issues revolving around alcohol use among the youth in Liberia and deaths associated will become major public health issues, if lawful restrictions or taxes are not increased on media advertisement and the sale of alcohol to the public. Especially in a country where policing and detaining of drunk drivers and passengers is highly relaxed.
Hence, to avoid losing the future generation of this country, let law enforcement, Liberia Business Registry, Commerce Ministry, and media centers, make operation of entertainment and advertisement of alcohol beverages stringent with higher tax imposed. This will help make liquor inaccessible to youth, thus minimizing the effects associated with it.
About the Author: Eddie Miaway Farngalo is the Head of Research at the Center for Liberia’s Future which is currently conducting a national study on community perceptions about Ebola and the reintegration of Ebola survivors, orphans and caregivers. Contact: 0886484351: email address: [email protected]