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Articles in the Media


Articles in the Media

Tavern tragedy reinforces need to give priority to tackling underage drinking in South Africa

8 July 2022

On 26 June 2022, 21 young people died at the Enyobeni tavern in East London, in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province. The incident refocused public attention on the safety of young people in the country.

The direct cause of the 21 deaths has not yet been determined. But questions are being asked about why children under the age of 18 were consuming alcohol in the tavern.

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Alcohol abuse and Covid-19: Two colliding epidemics – government must act now to reduce the momentum

29 December 2020

At a recent digicom hosted by Alan Winde, the Western Cape premier made it patently clear that trauma presentations were rising rapidly: by 26% across the five hospitals in the Western Cape sentinel trauma surveillance system, even after restrictions on gathering numbers and on alcohol sales, and a tightened curfew from 16 December. 

Christmas comes but once a year. Yet every year, like this repeated refrain, doctors and nurses brace themselves for the post-Christmas fallout as our festivities drag well into the New Year. Casualties of knife lacerations, gunshot wounds, road traffic collisions and gender-based violence, all present to hospital, each one requiring assessment, management, very often admission, and sometimes ventilation in ICU.

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Booze ban: SAMRC professor hits back at alcohol industry critics of lockdown law

3 August 2020

Professor Charles Parry of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has hit back at the alcohol industry following a review they commissioned on a report which informed government’s ban on the sale of liquor.

The alcohol industry coalition - which includes major producers such as SAB, Distell, Heineken and Pernod Ricard - recently released a statement on a review that identified that the report on alcohol-related trauma contained several data and statistical limitations due to the lack of complete information, making the robustness of the research uncertain.

View the complete article on News24

Charting a healthier way forward for alcohol in SA, now and into the future

27 July 2020

So, what is needed in the short term to get liquor sales unbanned while ensuring a better regulatory environment for alcohol to minimise the negative health and social consequences with which we are all so familiar? We believe the options set out below should be given serious consideration.  

South Africa, faced with a surge of Covid-19 infections in many of its provinces after the Level 4 and 5 hard lockdowns, was struggling to ensure hospital beds were available to deal with infected people who required hospital care and the country needed an urgent intervention. 

During the Level 5 lockdown, mortality from unnatural deaths and alcohol-related trauma presentations and admissions to hospitals were down, especially in Level 5. In Level 3 of the lockdown, which saw an opening up of movement and an end to the ban on liquor sales, there was a reversal of this trend. The quickest way to relieve the pressure on beds in South Africa during the Covid-19 surge was to impose a second temporary ban on liquor sales and institute a 9pm to 4am curfew.

View the complete article on the Maverick Citizen's website

South Africans must be healthier for universal healthcare to succeed

July 7, 2020 4.16pm SAST

Achieving a healthy population isn’t easy for any country – rich or poor. One of the approaches that’s gained traction over the past two decades is preventative care through health promotion. Simply put, health promotion means keeping people healthy. This is seen as particularly useful in developing countries, where levels of preventable noncommunicable diseases are high, the resources to treat disease are scarce and the cost of treating sick people is often higher than programmes to keep people healthy.

The health promotion approach has two areas of focus. One is preventing disease through activities like health education messaging, screening and testing for conditions. The other is addressing the upstream drivers and causes of poor health. These include social and economic factors such as poverty and unemployment. They also include smoking, excessive drinking, low levels of exercise, poor diet, sub-standard living conditions, gender-based violence and mental illness.

Read the complete article on The Conversation

South Africa needs to talk about its drink problem, says Ramaphosa

Erin Conway-Smith, Johannesburg
Saturday June 20 2020, 12.01am BST, The Times

South Africa’s president said “drastic measures” would be needed to combat alcohol abuse as violence against women and children rose after a lockdown ban on drink sales was lifted.

Trauma admissions to hospitals plunged by about 60 per cent during the 66-day ban, which was intended to free resources for coronavirus patients. Violent crime, gender-based violence and vehicle accidents all showed dramatic decreases before rebounding after restrictions were eased on June 1.

In a stern address to the nation this week, President Ramaphosa said it was “deeply disturbing” that an increase in violence, especially towards women and children, had accompanied the end of the hard lockdown. Mr Ramaphosa, 67, said: “We need to ask some very difficult questions of ourselves as a society.”

Read the complete article online on The Times

Could the debate over South Africa’s temporary alcohol sales ban have a subtext you’re missing?

By Richard Matzopoulos & Charles Parry
June 11, 2020

No, South Africa’s alcohol ban wasn’t the only thing that helped lower hospital trauma admissions recently, but it did play a substantial role.


South Africa’s ban on alcohol sales may be over, but the controversy around it is not. It’s time to set the record straight.

In a 17 May Sunday Times opinion piece entitled, “Liquor ban cedes control of the alcohol market to the criminal underworld”, editors emeritus of the South African Medical Journal Dan Ncayiyana and JP van Niekerk allege that the country’s recent temporary ban on alcohol sales was uncalled for.

View the complete article on Bhekisisa's Website

With alcohol sales allowed from 1 June, experts warn of surge in trauma cases

CAPE TOWN - The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) on Wednesday warned trauma units that their brief respite was over as the sale of alcohol was set to resume next week under level 3 lockdown.

But the removal of alcohol from the system for almost two months had profound effects on trauma cases.

Just two weeks into the lockdown, Groote Schuur Hospital reported a 66% decline in trauma cases, which was something the head of the unit attributed to a lack of alcohol.

This article first appeared on EWN : With alcohol sales allowed from 1 June, experts warn of surge in trauma cases

South Africa’s alcohol ban during lockdown reveals its deadly drinking habits

By Bonolo Mogotsi and 
May 9, 2020 at 7:36 p.m. GMT+2

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa has taken some of the most drastic measures in the world to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, but one has generated fierce debate like no other: a ban on the sale, and even transport, of alcohol.

Only two other countries — Sri Lanka and Panama — continue to deprive their citizens of that most universal pleasure-giver and painkiller, though much larger India and Thailand recently lifted similar bans.  Read the complete article on the Washington Post

Prohibition lockdown goes rogue

By Ferial Haffajee 20 April 2020

In its fourth week, the lockdown begins to loosen as people ripped from their freedom and plunged into an unprecedented era of prohibition get restless as the state doubles down. A mighty row between grocery stores and overly zealous bureaucrats looms as shebeens and taverns step out of the boxing ring. For now. Does the end justify the means?

Every day, the term lockdown trends, as if it’s cool. Social media mavens add a number to it. On Sunday, it was #Lockdownday24. Terrified by the scenes of plague death in China, then Italy, then Spain, in London and in the US, South Africans at first welcomed lockdown, forgetting that it is a term from the world of imprisonment. The hashtag trend is like high-fiving your own loss of freedom. In effect, we are imprisoned in our homes, subject to one of the world’s strictest lockdowns. 

Read more.

Restricting drinking and smoking after lockdown will save many lives: experts

As the country awaits President Cyril Ramaphosa’s pronouncement on whether the ban on the sale of alcohol will be relaxed, a leading expert on alcohol and drugs has warned that drastic measures to reduce the dependency on alcohol by many South Africans should be applied after the lockdown.

Prof Charles Parry, director of the alcohol, tobacco and drug research unit at the SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC), said greater restrictions such as reducing the sizes of alcohol containers, a ban on alcohol advertising and making cheap alcohol more expensive are some of the long-term measures the country could adopt to reduce heavy drinking and the burden of alcohol use on health and trauma centres.

Read more.

Will Ramaphosa announce an end to South Africa’s national alcohol ban today?

If South Africa lifts its national alcohol ban, it could result in an additional 5 000 trauma admissions each week, warn experts in a new, unpublished study seen by Bhekisisa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to respond today to requests by Gauteng business owners to lift the country’s alcohol ban. But legal and public health experts warn lifting the moratorium on alcohol sales may come at a cost to South Africa’s coronavirus response.

Read more.

All about Alcohol

Is a little alcohol really good for us – or is none better? It seems there’s a contradictory study published every other month. How are we to make an informed decision about enjoying booze – especially as we head into the “silly” season? Samantha Page finds out

Original article published in Fresh Living (November 2019)

Date: Thursday, November 7, 2019 - 12:32

More local research needed into efficacy of medicinal cannabis

Medical regulatory bodies must be guided by solid evidence rather than pressure from recreational users pushing for the legalisation of the drug.

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Date: Thursday, March 17, 2016 - 11:00

South African Group Leads Key Effort to Improve National Substance Abuse Services

The South African drug epidemic continues to grow rapidly, fueled by abuse of prescription opioids, novel opium concoctions and heroin. Contributory factors include a very high national unemployment rate and pervasive poverty. Yet, the country continues to struggle to implement a much-needed national system to assess the quality and effectiveness of drug abuse services.

Read the complete article

Date: Sunday, June 28, 2015 - 11:04


21 July 2022