In its 2014 Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, the WHO said the island was given a 12.5 per cent rating, followed by St. Lucia at 10.4 per cent.
But the Drug Control Officer in the Ministry of Education Dave Alexander says while the report is a cause for concern, it does not mean that Grenadians are consuming more alcohol than their regional counterparts.
Alexander who heads the Drug Control Secretariat that monitors and reports on drug use particularly among students, says before coming to the conclusion that Grenadians are heavy drinkers “one has to look at various aspects of the report and one just cannot look at the one chart or one piece of data to get the picture.”
Alexander said the data was compiled from many sources and the final product is a measurement against the overall population size.
“When they put the data together, what you’d realize when you look at the size of the population per hundred thousand, based on the consumption pattern it would indicate there is a high consumption pattern based on that ratio. It does not mean that Grenada consumes more alcohol than any other country,” he told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
The WHO report also showed that 66 per cent of the alcohol consumed is spirits or what is called ‘hard liquor’, 30 per cent beer and four per cent wine.
The report also noted that based on the per capita ratio there is more alcohol consumption among women than men.
“It does not mean that more females are drinking than males but when you look at the per capita, that is the critical thing. One has to look at it from a statistical standpoint and really understand what the variables are to come up with the type of data,” Alexander told CMC.”
Over the last few years, regional alcohol consumption levels have been a major concern for the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the WHO. To this end they have, last year, initiated a programme for countries of the region to develop national policies to address the issue of sale and consumption of alcohol in the Caribbean.
Alexander said Grenada has already drafted its policy within the next two months will be holding public consultations on the issue.
“We will take this draft policy to the public to get their views on what it says…it is envisaged that by the end of this year the policy would be ready for Cabinet approval.”
He said one of the major recommendations of the draft policy is for amendments to the country’s Liquor Liscense Act to take into consideration the proliferation of alcohol retail outlets and advertising.
Grenada’s Liquor Liscense Act was passed in 1901.
“Back then the situation was different,” Alexander said. “…access was limited and restricted.”
“We need to take measures to reduce access and availability. Also back then they did not have the issue of advertising because there was no media…so the Act back then would not have taken those situations into account,” he added.