KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has been named by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the world’s 10th largest consumer of alcohol despite its small population and size.
Statistics by the international body this year also showed that Malaysians spent over US$500mil (RM1.5bil) on alcohol with a per capita consumption of seven litres.
Beer consumption in Malaysia is 11 litres per capita.
Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Heng Seai Kie said the problem of alcohol consumption in the country was getting serious.
“Alcohol is not only causing a lot of health issues but is also contributing to a significant number of accidents,” she said here yesterday.
Heng was speaking to reporters after launching booklets and seminars on “Promote Healthy lifestyle: Reduce Alcohol Harm” organised by the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) and supported by IOGT International, a worldwide community of non-governmental organisations, and the National Association of the Prevention of Drug Abuse (Pemadam).
She said the ministry, through the National Population and Family Development Board, would hold a campaign to create awareness on the danger of alcohol abuse.
She said 10 seminars would be held nationwide this year.
They would be conducted in Mandarin, Malay, English and Tamil and were aimed mostly at those from the Chinese and Indian communities, which had a high alcohol abuse rate.
“The public has to understand that alcohol is not part of our culture and it will bring harm if it is abused,” she said.
Earlier, in his speech, KLSCAH secretary-general Yong Yew Wei said the Road Safety Council estimated that drinking and driving caused 30% of road accidents nationwide, with 38% of these resulting in fatalities.
“A study also shows that absenteeism from workplace among alcoholics is 16 times higher than others,” he said, adding that non-governmental bodies played a vital role in promoting a healthy lifestyle.