Drunken driving cause for most road accidents

by Don Asoka Wijewardena

Annually eighty per cent of road accidents numbering around 80,000 are caused by drunk driving and at least 2,500 lives are lost and another 30,000 become disabled either temporarily or permanently, Healthcare Minister Maithripala Sirisena revealed.

The government spent between Rs. 100,000 and Rs. 10 million on an accident victim. While 22 per cent of the budgetary allocations were set aside for treatment of patients, the government got only 12 per cent from alcohol and tobacco levy, Sirisena further said.

He told The Island that the decision to charge Rs. 2,000 for treating patients undergoing treatment at state run hospitals for alcohol related diseases was final.

"This decision was not to earn money for the government but to discourage people from consuming alcohol," Sirisena said.

He said the decision to charge patients had been referred to the Attorney General for his perusal and his response was being awaited

The Minister said that apart from road accidents caused by drunks, alcohol was the main cause of non communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, kidney failure, heart attacks and hypertension; between 300 to 350 people died of those diseases daily.

The latest statistics has revealed that on an average 150 people die of heart failure, 40 due to high blood pressure on a daily basis while 15,000 die of cancer annually and all these diseases have been caused by alcohol and tobacco use, according to the Health Minister.

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