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Discovery Health CEO says he backs short-term alcohol ban and here's why

16 July 2020 7:50 AM

CEO Dr Ryan Noach says in his personal view however, in medium to longer-term, prohibition is not the solution to alcohol issues.

The banning of alcohol has once taken centre stage with questions being asked about it legitimacy and effectiveness in combatting Covid-19, suggests Refilwe Moloto.

There is evidence that trauma units faced an increase in patients when the first ban on alcohol was lifted some weeks ago.

But other quarters are calling it an extreme measure at a time when industries linked to alcohol can least expect to stop all trade.

Dr Ryan Noach, the Chief Executive Officer of Discovery Health speaks to Refilwe Moloto about the benefits of the alcohol ban, but also why it is not a permanent solution as he predicts a steady rise in infection rates.

We're facing a wave of Covid-19 illness and claims and it's pretty frightening. We're right in the epicenter and teeth of the epidemic now.

Dr Ryan Noach, CEO - Discovery Health

He says Discovery Health has been preparing the infrastructure for a long time.

Regarding the alcohol ban, he says they are deeply empathetic to the employment, economic and fiscal impact resulting from this action.

In my own personal view, I am not convinced that a prohibition is the right thing in the long term.

Dr Ryan Noach, CEO - Discovery Health

In the short-term, however, he absolutely understands why the government has chosen to do this.

It s critical for us as a country that every single patient in need of a hospital bed or ICY bed has access to one and available data does show that this (ban) does free up hospital beds.

Dr Ryan Noach, CEO - Discovery Health

Based on Discovery Health's own data based on its members shows that between level 4 and level 3, when alcohol sales were unbanned, there was an 80% increase in direct alcohol-related admissions.

There was a 190% increase in trauma admissions although not all of these may have been alcohol-related but certainly, a very large proportion of them are.

Dr Ryan Noach, CEO - Discovery Health

He says the thousands of extra patients being admitted to hospital just within the Discovery Health Medical Scheme for alcohol-related issues, does back up the evidence that the unbanning has put enormous strain on all hospitals in the country.

In the medium to longer-term, I am absolutely of the view that prohibition is not the solution to the alcohol-related issues.

Dr Ryan Noach, CEO - Discovery Health

He says better education campaigns are needed with a deep understanding and responsibility within society of the consequences of alcohol abuse.

Gender-based-violence and other violence related to alcohol need a societal solution with behavioural change, he adds.

We should have absolutely zero-tolerance for drunk driving.

Dr Ryan Noach, CEO - Discovery Health

Noach confirms they have put "unusual and extraordinary" arrangements in place to ensure that their Covid-19 positive members needing hospital care receive it even if that requires being transported non-Covid19 patients across provincial lines to other hospitals with more capacity.

Listen to the interview below:


16 July 2020 7:50 AM

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