KUALA LUMPUR: Despite being a small country, Malaysia has been named the 10th largest consumer of alcohol in the world.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics this year, Malaysians spent over US$500mil (RM1.5bil) on alcohol, while the per capita consumption was seven litres. Beer consumption in Malaysia is 11 litres per capita.
Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Senator Heng Seai Kie said the alcohol consumption problem in the country was getting serious.
"Alcohol not only causing a lot of health issues, it is also contributing to a significant number of accidents," she said Sunday, speaking to reporters after launching booklets and a seminar, 'Promote Healthy lifestyle: Reduce Alcohol Harm', organised by the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, and supported by IOGT International, a worldwide community of non-governmental organisations), and the National Association of the Prevention of Drug Abuse (Pemadam).
The road safety council estimated that drinking and driving caused 30% of road accidents nationwide and 38% of those who died in road accidents consumed alcohol before they went on the roads.
Study also showed that absenteeism from the workplace among alcoholics was 16 times higher than others.
Heng said the ministry, through the National Population and Family Development Board, would hold a campaign to create awareness on the dangers of alcohol abuse.
She said 10 seminars would be held nationwide this year, which would be conducted in Mandarin, Malay, English and Tamil at urban and rural areas, including estates.
The seminars will target mostly those from the Chinese and Indian communities found to have higher abuse of alcohol.
"The public must understand that alcohol is not our culture and will bring harm if abused," she said.