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Volume of alcohol consumption, patterns of drinking and burden of disease in sub-Saharan Africa, 2002

M Roerecke
IS Obot
J Patra
J Rehm


The aim of this study was to provide an overview of the volume of alcohol consumption, type of
beverage, patterns of drinking and alcohol-attributable burden of disease among adults in sub-
Saharan Africa (SSA) for the year 2002. Exposure data were taken from surveys, the World Health
Organization (WHO) Global Status Report on Alcohol and the WHO Global Alcohol Database.
Mortality and disability data were obtained directly from WHO. The results showed that adult per
capita alcohol consumption (population15 years and above) in SSA was higher than the global
consumption rate (7.4 L vs. 6.2 L) and that alcohol consumption per adult drinker was 42% higher
than the global rate. Alcohol was responsible for a considerable disease burden: 2.2% of all deaths
and 2.5% of all DALYs could be attributed to this exposure. Intentional and unintentional injuries
accounted for 53% of all alcohol-attributable deaths and almost 57% of alcohol-attributable disease
burden. Among men 70% of all alcohol-attributable injury deaths occurred among 15-44 year olds (52% among women). This first attempt to quantify the health burden attributable to alcohol in SSA provides evidence of the direct health costs associated with drinking in the continent. In light
of known effective and cost-effective measures, there is urgent need to implement interventions
aimed at reducing levels of risky drinking and the high burden of alcohol-related harm in African

KEY WORDS: alcohol consumption, patterns of drinking, sub-Saharan Africa, burden of disease