LESOTHO, 6 June 2016 (SAfAIDS Media Desk) - In an effort to reduce harmful behavioral practices such as alcohol and drug abuse by young people, SAfAIDS and its partners in Lesotho have launched the Don’t Hit. Beat Abuse campaign. Targeting young people, the campaign is being run in recognition of how drug and alcohol abuse fuel new HIV infections, gender-based violence and other non-communicable diseases.
Just like in many countries in southern Africa, in Lesotho, alcohol has been socially accepted as something that enhances social interaction, with its use benchmarking cultural, traditional and social practices. However, too much consumption of alcohol carries a risk of adverse health consequences and can result in physical dependence (alcoholism). For Lesotho, alcohol abuse is attributed to a large unregulated informal market of traditional beer and other alcoholic products. A risk factor study by HealthE found that the Basotho start drinking on average between10-14 years, with males drinking much more than females. The Ministry of Health reports that males are four times more likely to engage in hazardous drinking than females.
Scientific evidence shows that using alcohol and drugs before the brain has fully developed increases the risk of future addiction to alcohol and drugs. Significantly, young people who start drinking before the age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol abuse or dependence than people who first used alcohol at age 21 or older.
SAfAIDS intends to use this campaign to ensure that Basotho are free from drug and alcohol abuse. Among other activities, the campaign will include radio and television advertisements, a radio series on Radio Lesotho, community discussions and bashes where the campaign message, Don’t Hit. Beat Abuse! will be emphasised.
The campaign is currently being implemented by Phelisanang Bophelong (PB) in the district of Leribe along with Lesotho Bishops Conference (LCBC) in the district of Berea, and is also being supported by Ministry of Health Lesotho and other partners.