File Picture: Leon Knipe
File Picture: Leon Knipe

Link between alcohol consumption and increasing number of trauma cases in hospitals ’undeniable’

By Botho Molosankwe Time of article published Aug 25, 2020

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Johannesburg: Gauteng acting MEC for Health Jacob Mamabolo says recent statistic have proven that there is a direct correlation between alcohol consumption as well as the increasing number of trauma cases that hospitals have to deal with.

Mamabolo said if one compared the number of people hospital trauma units dealt with in April, May and July this year when alcohol was banned to the same period last year, the connection was undeniable.

That, he said, put pressure on the health system.

For example, he said, Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital had 2 797 emergency cases in April and May in 2020 compared to 5 163 cases for the same period last year.

In 2019, he said, Tembisa Tertiary Hospital had 8 803 cases in April and May, but only 5 540 were recorded in the same period this year

Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital, he said, recorded 4 614 cases in April and May in this year, compared with 7 583 for the same period last year.

He said the data for emergency cases since the declaration of Level 2 and the unbanning of alcohol was still being collected.

“The admission for emergency cases decreased during April, May and July this year compared to last year. This can be attributed to the lockdown and the ban on sale of alcohol.

“The number of emergency room admissions increased in June, but decreased again in July after the ban. The direct effect of trauma cases is that a bed that could have been used for other services including Covid-19 are now taken up by alcohol-related cases.

“It should be noted, however, that not all trauma cases requires a bed or overnight admission and the length of stay varied case by case” he said.

Mamabolo’s observations come a few days after three Metro Police offices from Tshwane died in a head-on collision with a suspected drunk driver in the early hours of Sunday.

The crash occurred on the N4 between Trans Orange Road and Rebecca Street in Pretoria west.

Empty and full alcohol bottles were found in the suspect's vehicle.

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