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Alcohol legalised: It’s been a bloody week in the Western Cape

8 June 2020 9:24 AM
Tags:
Western Cape
Alcohol
Groote Schuur hospital
Alcohol ban
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
Western Cape Department of Health
Refilwe Moloto
Trauma
gender-based violence
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Coronavirus
Lockdown
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Saadiq Kariem
Savannah Smith
Tygerber Hospital

"The statistics are self-evident," says Dr Saadiq Kariem (Western Cape Department of Health).

Last Monday (1 June), legal alcohol sales resumed.

By Tuesday evening trauma doctor Savannah Smith saw more alcohol-related trauma than in the entire month of May.

"People were coming in intoxicated, having stabbed each other and then I need to emphasise the gender-based violence,” said Smith.

“Many women came in needing to be consoled because their partners were drunk and inflicted violence on them.

“The 80-year-old grandmother who fell and broke her hip and ended up waiting up for eight hours to be seen by me, because I was too busy seeing all the alcohol-related trauma.

“The lifting of the alcohol ban may have been somewhat premature."

© diego_cervo/123rf.com

Read: WC hospitals see spike in trauma cases after alcohol sales resume


Similar reports came from the rest of South Africa.

At Johannesburg’s Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – the largest in Africa – within 24 hours of the unbanning of alcohol sales the number of trauma unit cases almost doubled, according to hospital CEO Nkele Lesia.

“The majority of the patients were drunk, a few patients had gunshot wounds and injuries from general assaults,” said Lesia.


Read: Trauma cases almost double in 24 hours after alcohol ban lifted - Bara hospital


Was prohibiting the sale of alcohol the right call?

Is it wise, now the prohibition has been lifted, to limit its sale to weekdays (except Fridays) only?

Refilwe Moloto interviewed Dr Saadiq Kariem, Chief of Operations at Western Cape Department Of Health.

Moloto asked him about the experience at Western Cape hospitals in the week since the lifting of the ban.

It’s had a massive impact on our facilities. During the lockdown, our facilities had, on average, about 70% to 75% reduction in the trauma volume. The moment alcohol sales were relaxed… we saw a 50% to 100% increase…

Dr Saadiq Kariem, Chief of Operations - Western Cape Department Of Health

We need all hands on deck for Covid!

Dr Saadiq Kariem, Chief of Operations - Western Cape Department Of Health

At Groote Schuur Hospital the weekend before alcohol was released, they would’ve seen five to 10 patients per day… the weekend after they would’ve seen about 50 per day… a 10-fold jump in workload! At Tygerberg Hospital, in April 2019 they saw 1400 patients. In April 2020, they saw about 500. We’re almost back to pre-2020 numbers!

Dr Saadiq Kariem, Chief of Operations - Western Cape Department Of Health

It helps significantly [that the sale of alcohol remains illegal from Friday to Sunday]! Most [alcohol related] homicides come in between Friday to Monday morning… Those homicides have jumped from 10 the weekend before to 32 on the weekend after…

Dr Saadiq Kariem, Chief of Operations - Western Cape Department Of Health

Movement of people plus more freely available alcohol – obviously, it’s a dangerous combination.

Dr Saadiq Kariem, Chief of Operations - Western Cape Department Of Health

We know from work done by Professor Parry [Director of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Council] that alcohol is related to about 65% to 70% of cases in our trauma unit. It [increased trauma cases] is not only about increased movement of people! In fact, it’s significantly more about alcohol availability.

Dr Saadiq Kariem, Chief of Operations - Western Cape Department Of Health

The statistics are self-evident.

Dr Saadiq Kariem, Chief of Operations - Western Cape Department Of Health

Listen to the interview in the audio below.




8 June 2020 9:24 AM
Tags:
Western Cape
Alcohol
Groote Schuur hospital
Alcohol ban
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
Western Cape Department of Health
Refilwe Moloto
Trauma
gender-based violence
gbv
Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto
Coronavirus
Lockdown
COVID-19
Coronavirus in South Africa
covid-19 in south africa
alcohol sales ban
covid-19 in western cape
coronavirus in western cape
Saadiq Kariem
Savannah Smith
Tygerber Hospital

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