Stakeholders in the South African alcohol industry are requesting a report on the findings submitted by the South African Medical Research Council’s (SAMRC's) alcohol, tobacco and other drug research unit to the Portfolio Committee on Health on the impact of alcohol on South Africa’s health services.
The alcohol industry has written to the SAMRC requesting the data used to decide to reinstate the prohibition on the formal sale and distribution of alcohol with immediate effect as of midnight on July 12.
South African alcohol industry spokesperson Sibani Mngadi says that, based on the SAMRC’s recommendations, the government came to the sudden decision to stop all business operations across the alcohol industry, which led to “undermining the overall supply chain logistics and putting at risk almost a million jobs supported by the industry”.
The industry states that the SAMRC alcohol, tobacco and other drug research unit head Professor Charles Parry made several claims about the benefit of the new ban in preserving hospital beds, as well as providing financial savings to the public health sector.
According to Mngadi, access to the data will enable the alcohol industry, and any other interested parties, to better understand how these conclusions and assumptions were arrived at.
He says the industry voices it agreement with SAMRC president Dr Glenda Gray that there should be a national alcohol policy and an endeavour to promote responsible drinking.
“We have offered to help set up a national multistakeholder forum with government and civil society focusing on identifying and prioritising problem areas, based on research and credible current data, and jointly designing interventions targeting these key areas with enhanced current programmes and new measurable and evidence-based initiatives,” says Mngadi.
He adds that the requested SAMRC data may assist the industry in designing and implementing the sustainable, targeted interventions to reduce harm caused by excessive alcohol consumption that it is currently working on.