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Govt told to partner with Churches to combat alcoholism, drug abuse

The President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni. Courtesy Photo.

By Our Reporter

Faith leaders in the country have expressed concern over the escalation in alcoholism and drug abuse noting that government should partner with church affiliated institutions to cub the epidemic.

The Bishop of Fort Portal Catholic Diocese, the Rt Rev Robert Muhiirwa while presiding over the celebration for the 17th anniversary of Serenity Centre, Bwebajja in Wakiso district said alcoholism has become endemic among the different  sections of Uganda’s population.

“It is more worrying that Uganda is ranked number one in Africa and number eight in the world,  in drinking alcohol. We have lost many lives and resourceful professionals because of alcohol and drugs,” he said.

According to psychiatrist Dr David Basangwa of Butabika Hospital, the average first age of drinking in Uganda is 10 to 12 years and that 60 per cent of those who seek treatment at Butabika’s Alcohol and Drug Unit are aged 13 to 21.

Local media reports show there are an estimated 26 registered breweries licensed to operate in Uganda although most of the alcohol consumed is produced informally in homes or from unregistered small scale distillers and brewers.

Muhiirwa asked the government to partner with church affiliated organisations such as serenity Centre, to create awareness about alcoholism and treat the addicts.

For the last 17 years, Serenity Centre has had over 1,000 patients from all walks of life in and outside Uganda benefit from their residential treatment programs ,whereas over one million have benefited from its outreach programs.

President Museveni last year said government is considering introducing a law on bar opening hours to regulate increasing alcohol abuse.

He told thousands at the Kololo Independence grounds in Kampala that he had managed to keep his body in shape because he doesn’t drink or smoke cigarettes.

“I have never in my life tasted Alcohol. I am now 70 years but if you want to bring chaos here, we’ll brawl.”

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