While alcohol liver diseases (ALD) continue to be the leading cause of deaths in Bhutan, the number of alcohol-related deaths has decreased last year, according to annual health bulletin 2018.

About 166 people, 24 less than in 2016, died of alcohol-related diseases last year. This means about 13 people died of ALD every month.

The incidence of ALD per 10,000 has also decreased from 46 in 2016 to 35 in 2017.

The government spent about Nu 27 million to treat alcohol-related diseases in 2016, up by a million from 2015.

Of a total of 2,719 ALD cases that were reported in all hospitals across the country last year, 1,502 were admitted to the hospitals; 159 died.

About 884 ALD patients admitted to the hospitals are aged between 15 and 49 years-old and 329 aged between 50 and 59 years. One patient is aged between five to 14 years; the rest are above 60-years-old.

The total number of mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol also decreased from 1,023 in 2016 to 923 last year.

Alcohol is also one of the main cause of violence in the country.

According to RENEW reports, about 70 percent of domestic violence incidents were committed under the influence of alcohol.

Of 271 domestic violence cases reported to the forensic medicine department with the national referral hospital in Thimphu in 2016, about 172 cases reported alcohol as the cause of the violence.

During the National Assembly session in November last year, Health Minister Tandin Wangchuk said that considering the alcohol problem in the country, a National Policy and Strategic framework to reduce harmful use of alcohol 2015 – 2020 was approved by the Cabinet. An executive order was issued to all dzongkhags and agencies for implementation.

Lyonpo said that the implementation of community expansion programme including the formation of gewog level alcohol harm reduction committee and intervention had reduced harmful use of alcohol.

Dechen Tshomo