Nurses at the frontline of Covid-19 welcome booze ban
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Durban - Nurses and South Africans Against Drink Driving (SADD) have reacted with jubilation after President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended the sale, dispensing and distribution of alcohol with immediate effect on Sunday night.
During his address, Ramaphosa said the decision was made because the country was heading to the peak of infections and it was important that clinics and hospitals were not filled with alcohol-related injuries.
Ramaphosa said there was clear evidence that the resumption of alcohol sales had resulted in substantial pressure being put on hospitals.
Nurses working in trauma units and theatres took to WhatsApp and expressed happiness at the ban.
One nurse said they would get a much-needed break from neurology patients who had been involved in car accidents or were assaulted because they were drunk.
Another nurse said they were tired of procedures performed on patients who had been involved in car accidents or assaults.
The patients they complained most about were those where alcohol was involved.
A third nurse said a patient had been admitted at the hospital where she worked with a large tactical or fighting knife lodged next to his tear duct. Fortunately there was no major damage. It was suspected that alcohol was involved in him sustaining the injury.
Netcare hospital division managing director Jacques du Plessis said: “While we do not keep specific statistics relating to alcohol-related trauma cases, we can confirm that trauma-related incidents in Netcare’s emergency departments countrywide increased considerably following the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions to level three and the unbanning of alcohol.”
Meanwhile, SADD founder and director Caro Smit congratulated the president for taking the decision to ban alcohol sales, saying it would free up hospital beds and medical staff now that the country was reaching the peak of Covid-19 infections.
“People did not heed his call to drink responsibly and alcohol-related injuries flooded our emergency units,” said Smit.
She said after the pandemic, the Presidency and Health Department should concentrate on ways to change drinking habits to reduce alcohol-related harm.
This could be achieved by using evidence-based practices, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), which would help reduce alcohol availability and harm.
Justice Project South Africa chairperson Howard Dembovsky said he was not surprised by the reinstatement of the alcohol ban and curfew.
“Whether these measures will have the desired effect is another story.
“This is especially so considering that many people saw it coming and stocked up on alcohol, either for personal consumption or to enter the illicit market and make themselves some money. Time will tell which it was,” said Dembovsky.
“The justification for the re-imposition of the curfew is hogwash. The horrific crash at Jozini happened during broad daylight. So did many other alcohol-related crashes.”
Dembovsky said it was not that most alcohol-related injuries occurred at night, but it was at night when most people decided to drink.
According to the WHO, reduced alcohol availability would result in less alcohol-related hospitalisation, fewer car crashes, safer and more peaceful communities, and more money for food and schooling.