by Carlize Aploon

South Africa has earned itself a top ten place for something it shouldn’t really be too proud of.

South Africa has been ranked as the sixth drunkest country in the world, according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Despite a heavy sin tax levy on alcohol, South Africans who indulge in tipple tend to do so excessively, according to the 2018 WHO Global Status report.

Back in 2017, an international survey found that South Africa also had the highest number of drunk driving incidents.

South Africa’s binging problem

Somewhat surprisingly, the latest WHO report noted that only 31% of adults reported drinking alcohol in the last year. However, it’s the extent of consumption that’s problematic.

Statistics claim that the average South African boozer guzzles up 30 litres of pure alcohol. That heavy drinking is what ranks the country so highly.

The World Health Organisation states that lesser amounts of alcohol are far less dangerous than binging.

This is because the liver can process smaller amounts of alcohol much easier.

But things get worse…

South Africa public health goes down the bottle

WHO uses a scale of one to five in order to rank a country’s risky drinking patterns, with one being the lowest. Only Russia and Ukraine scored five.

South Africa scored four.

According to Business day, the South African Medical Journal reported that almost half of those who drink have dangerous consumption patterns.

The global status report further reports:

  • That 7% of South Africans suffer from disorders due to dangerous drinking.
  • That 2% of South Africans are physiologically and psychologically dependant on alcohol and
  • That 6% of all deaths within South African are solely because of alcohol.

Alcohol excise tax may be attributed to South Africans alcohol binging problem, according to Grieve Chelwa, senior lecturer in economics at the University of Cape Town’s graduate school of business, and Corne Walbeek, professor of economics in UCT’s school of economics,

 “Given its societal harm, the taxation of alcohol products must be urgently revisited. This process should also rationalise the tax treatment of all alcohol products so that they are taxed equally in terms of their alcohol content.”

The WHO report also listed shebeens as one of the major problems for regulating drinking. Beer is by far the most consumed drink with 56% of drinkers marking it as their tipple of choice. Wine and spirits scored the same with 18%.