South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of alcohol-related harms. These are estimated to cost the nation roughly 2% of GDP annually and, in addition, contribute to country’s exceptionally high levels of crime, violence and injury. At a policy level therefore, attention has been overwhelmingly focussed on the regulation of supply – both availability and access – in order to reduce these harms. In practice this has been achieved through strategies of land use zoning, more stringent opening hours and attempts to regulate the informal liquor sector through police raids and closures of shebeens (illegal bars). These strategies have been underpinned by the drive to address the acute effects of drinking, rather than the more sustained, chronic health effects such as non-communicable diseases (e.g. cancers, liver disease) for which the World Health Organisation recognises alcohol as one of four main risk factors. The paper engaged with this 'missing agenda' within South Africa’s alcohol control remit by exploring the consequences of the omission of NCDs from policy aims. In particular it critically explores (1) how the focus on acute effects of drinking serves to frame alcohol consumption as a risk behaviour and (2) the consequences for the ways in which alcohol control strategies are socio-spatially deployed across urban spaces.
Herrick, C. Alcohol consumption and NCDs in South Africa: A missing Agenda? Presented at the Royal Geographical Society, London, 30 August, 2013. (2013)