Although there has been a slight decrease in the deaths related to alcohol liver disease (ALD) last year, it continues to be the top cause of all deaths in the country.

According to the annual health bulletin 2019, deaths related to ALD has decreased from 167 cases in 2017 to 113 last year, the lowest cases reported from across the country in the last five years.

However, the incidence of ALD per 10,000 has increased from 35 in 2017 to 37.5 last year. In 2016, the incidence of ALD per 10,000 was 46, 11 more than the previous year.

The total number of mental and behavioral disorders due to alcohol has also increased from 923 in 2017 to 1,010 last year. A majority (72 percent) of the patients reported to have mental and behavioral disorders due to alcohol were females.

Despite the decrease, it still being the leading cause of all deaths in the country could be due to high social and cultural significance of alcohol in Bhutanese society, according to the bulletin.

Of the 1,220 ALD cases reported to out-patient departments in all the health centres, except for the JDWNRH and two military hospitals last year, a majority was in the age group between 15 and 49 years with 776 cases.

About 271 patients were in age group 50 to 59 years, 170 were 60 years or above. Three patients with ALD were aged between five and 14 years.

In terms of inpatients, a total of 1,366 ALD patients were admitted in all hospitals in 2018, of which 109 died.

Health officials said that while the revenue from sale of alcohol is substantial, it does not compensate for the economic losses incurred as a result of alcohol-related harm, loss of productivity, and premature deaths occurring in the society.

About 70 percent of the 3,261 cases of domestic violence recorded by the RENEW from 2004 to 2017 was committed under the influence of alcohol.

According to a study conducted in 2014, the estimated economic returns in trade were Nu 1 billion, which translates to approximately one percent of the Gross Domestic Product.

The health ministry spent about Nu 27 million to treat alcohol related diseases in the country in 2016, up by a million from 2015.

Dechen Tshomo


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