As the Coronavirus creates fears and uncertainty of life in Ghanaians and the world for the time being, some Ghanaians come to accept and practice anything and every information they find on social media and other sources, including a lot of untrue information concerning the virus. Some have resorted to excessive in-take of “akpeteshie” (local gin) as an antidote mechanism to combat COVID-19. The aim of this article is to outline some negative effects of alcoholism on the human person and the nation as a whole. I will render regulatory suggestions, and even plead for complete abstinence from alcohol as the country is at war against this famous, yet unseen enemy called coronavirus.
Let me give a brief introduction to COVID-19 and the Ghanaian situation as at 2nd April, 2020 (20 days after the first cases were confirmed). At that moment, there were 195 confirmed cases, 5 deaths and about 31 recoveries with 18 people in home-care. COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that spreads from person to person through droplets produced from coughing, sneezing or by coming in contact with infected surfaces, objects or items. It was first detected in Wuhan in China, before it spread to other countries as people travelled globally. Powerful nations such as USA, Italy, France, Russia, India and about 36 African countries are affected. Ghana confirmed her first two cases on 12th March, 2020 as two people returned from Norway and Turkey. Prior to the confirmed cases, the government had made available an amount of US $100 million to enhance Ghana’s coronavirus preparedness and response plan. The President, in consultation with some experts, called on all nationals to pick up their bows and arrows to fight COVID-19 in Ghana and the world for that matter. The government established the COVID-19 fund to seek contributions and donations from the public to assist in the welfare of the needy and the vulnerable in the country.
As COVID-19 cases increased in numbers every day, the President called a ban on public gatherings including in churches, mosques, festivals, funerals etc. (exceeding 25 persons) and the suspension of all schools and universities in the country to curb its spread. His excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo in his addresses to the nation (on 16th, 21st and 28th of March respectively) emphatically advised Ghanaians to adhere to the directives from the Ministry of Health (MOH), experts and the World Health Organization such as: washing of hands with soap under running water, keeping distance, the use of hands sanitizers, avoiding shaking hands and so on. His addresses mitigate fears in Ghanaians and serve as panacea to those in paranoia. The President called a 2-week partial lockdown in Kumasi and Accra as the public called for it to help curb and militate the rapid spread of the disease in the country. He did this after some basic facilities and plans were put in place to cater for the needy and the vulnerable in the said areas. The lockdown will bring family reconciliation and bonding. As people stay at home, they will rest and meditate well on life. The lockdown serves as a preemptive measure to curtail people’s movement as the country soars. Daily life for the needy and the vulnerable such as bread sellers, “kayayei” girls, will not be easy. Also many people may lose their jobs.
However, our able President pledges to provide basic needs for them. As the President and some stakeholders reflect and meditate on how to alleviate the suffering the life of humanity in this dreadful situation, some Ghanaians have it that in-take of “akpeteshie” (local gin) is a mechanism to prevent and fight the COVID-19 spreading in the country. During a personal encounter with a man in a taxi here in Ejisu-Ashanti Region before the lockdown, he said to me that the in-take of “raw akpeteshie is a medicine to fight COVID-19”. He justified the shortage of akpeteshie in town as demand exceeds supply despite its cut-throat price. Information reaching from the North indicates the same trend as some people abuse the said drink and eventually fall and injure themselves. Admittedly, akpeteshie is one of our most cherished cultural gins but the excessive in-take of it is harmful to one’s health and the nation especially in these times of COVID-19 entanglements. Men who may engage in this act, may spend much of their time with sluts at the expense of family bond or community life.
Alcohol abuse has serious socio-economic effects, especially on families and communities. It is a threat to the unborn-child, children and adolescents as some may be lured into it during this time of trials. Also alcoholism may lead to neuropsychiatric complications (mental health problems), liver and heart ailment, and diabetes. Eventually, some victims of alcoholism may lose their lives in the name of fighting this unseen threat to humanity.
This practice should be frowned at, wherever we are and victims guided to drink alcohol moderately, and even to abstain from it altogether. I appeal to the Baraka Policy Institute (BPI), Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization to enact and enforce laws to curtail alcoholism as it is a global affair. Producers who brew the said alcohol with high percentage of ethyl alcohol should be held accountable. I also call upon all able men and women to update and disseminate this information on the negative effects of akpeteshie to save lives in our localities and in the world. Akpeteshie is not an antidote to coronavirus pandemic. Its abuse only causes harm and no good whatsoever.
BY BONVI JONAS BARIBE.