There is a danger posed by brewing, selling and the subsequent abuse of hard liquor across the country.
A recent study carried out and published by Global Healthcare and Education Initiative -Uganda Chapter (GHEI-Uganda) on the Health Psychology of Alcohol and Alcoholism has demonstrated that employing health messages in the form of pictures that cause disgust can positively influence future drinking intentions and emotions, perhaps reducing excessive alcohol drinking.
This is the simplest form of community engagement that gets information to all, the educated and the illiterates-targeting mostly children and youths.
As many are getting mad at Betty Namboze's talk of a proposal to regulate alcohol production and consumption in Uganda, we actually need to go a joint effort to educate the masses about the real socio-economic (and health) dangers of alcohol and alcoholism. It is such a serious problem that needs a lot of research and policy advocacy if we are to take a goal-directed action at all levels, involving all stakeholders.
Given the ugly reality associated with alcohol, there is also a need for capacity building to raise awareness to empower both producers, sellers and consumers in order to develop a consensus methodology for full participation of all stakeholders. In many parts of Uganda, residents have a practice of selling the little available food they may have in stock to raise money for buying alcohol, especially sachet waragi. This calls for taking a giant stride to save their people from drowning in alcohol.
Indeed, there is a danger posed by brewing, selling and the subsequent abuse of hard liquor across the country, people waste themselves away at drinking sprees from dawn to dusk. Today, the mushrooming trading centres, especially in the villages countrywide, are brimming with energetic and would-be productive men, women and the youths in search of alcoholic drinks - waragi, kwette, malwa, tonto, beer, name it.
Due to gross abuse, alcohol is blamed for playing a substantial role in some students dropping out of school to their own detriment. It is also believed to be partly responsible for social problems, especially among the youths. Some marriage breakups are also tied to alcohol consumption Past research has shown that overconsumption of alcohol can induce adverse health effects and aggressive or violent behaviour.
In order to combat the issue of risky single-occasional alcohol drinking, government bodies have attempted to boost more responsible drinking. Furthermore, health communication practitioners address the issue of risky drinking via the provision of safe drinking information (such as the daily limits of alcohol consumption) in communications which frame health-related messages in unique ways backed by audio and visual vocabulary that can get on to the actual alcohol consumers for behavioural change.
In a new study, loss and gain frames for health messages are discussed; the primary goal of these messages is to facilitate the adoption of healthier behaviours, develop healthier attitudes, and intentions to follow recommendations. The researchers hypothesized that different types of message framing (presented to participants in the form of photos, images and pictorial designs) will have differential effects on positive and negative emotions, as well as intentions related to drinking alcohol.
The results supported the hypothesis, as the message framing types exerted a differential effect onto the drinking-related positive and negative emotions, as well as intentions of reducing alcohol consumption. Ultimately, the health disgust-loss message frame (an image of a person with pus-filled facial sores) was the most effective at eliciting intentions to consume alcohol in moderation or reduce drinking in general. The social fear loss frame (depicting two women fighting at a bar) was the next most effective message frame.
Research suggests that the effectiveness of the health disgust-loss message frame might be due in part to the prevalent stigma that lies in visible facial deformity. It is our shared responsibility to employ a multimedia approach to check on Alcoholism through capacity building and knowledge enhancement about the real danger of Alcohol and Alcoholism.
The writer is the president of Sustainable World Initiative-East Africa.