Kigezi Region Secures Second Place in Alcohol Consumption

By Sophan Niwamanya

The Kigezi sub-region has earned a troubling distinction, ranking second only to Kampala in two concerning categories: alcohol consumption and non-communicable diseases nationwide.

This revelation came to light during the Kigezi Regional Joint Review Mission (JRM), held at the National Teachers College in Kabale Municipality. Dr. Patrick Tusiime, representing the Chief Guest, Anifa Kawooya Bangirana, the State Minister for Health, General Duties, conveyed this unsettling news.

Tusiime informed the press that the Ministry of Health’s latest review, covering the period from April to June 2023, highlighted certain alarming trends in the Kigezi region. Foremost among these was excessive alcohol consumption, a major contributor to mental health issues and various other health disorders.

Furthermore, Tusiime underscored that Kigezi wasn’t just leading in alcohol consumption but also in the prevalence of conditions such as bipolar disorder, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other non-communicable diseases.

Dr. John Philbert Nyeko, the Director of Kabale Regional Referral Hospital, expressed his dismay at Kigezi’s standing in the realm of alcohol consumption. He pointed out the tragic consequence of preventable diseases stemming from excessive drinking.

Nshangabasheija Nelson, the Chairperson of Kabale district LCV, issued a stern warning against the consumption of local waragi, citing its harmful effects on internal organs like the liver and kidneys. He emphasized the need for a shift in dietary habits for those who wish to preserve their health.

According to Ministry of Health statistics from the 4th Quarter of FY 2022/2023, the prevalence of alcohol use disorder per 100,000 population revealed that 42.1 individuals in Kampala were affected, with Kigezi following closely at 24.4. Meanwhile, substance use was reported at 56.4 in Kampala and 7.3 in Kigezi.

Kigezi also garnered the unfortunate distinction of having the highest population afflicted by non-communicable diseases. Out of every 100,000 individuals seeking medical care, 1841.6 suffered from diabetes, 2667.8 from hypertension, 64.6 from prostate cancer, and 159.5 from bipolar disorder in Kigezi.

Furthermore, other non-communicable diseases plagued the Kigezi region, with 6.8 cases of breast cancer, 1.4 cases of cervical cancer, and 32.7 cases of unipolar disorder among the affected populace.