Ukraine needs alcohol policy concept, experts say

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Oct. 5, 2012, 2:38 p.m. | Ukraine — by Interfax-Ukraine

One of butchers drinks vodka during Pigs Carvers Festival in Transcarpathian village of Gecha, not far from Uzhgorod, about 800 km from Kyiv on January 30, 2010.

Ukrainian medical professionals say Ukraine has to adopt a concept for an alcohol policy at the legislative level.

"It's impossible to regulate the prices and alcohol market without such a document [on a concept for alcohol policy]," Director of the Ukrainian National Alcohol and Drug Observatory of the Health Ministry of Ukraine Anatoliy Viyevsky said at a press conference in Kyiv on Thursday.

According to him, an alcohol situation in Ukraine will continue worsening without such a document, and the country could face unpredictable consequences.

"If our country doesn't have an alcohol policy approved by a state document, then the 26 fatalities that occurred in the Czech Republic could be nothing compared to our [possible consequences]," Viyevsky said.

The expert said that no alcohol policy, in any country, achieves results on the first day, but that it has an effect in the future.

The expert said Ukrainians should be able to check the alcohol products they buy, in particular, from big enterprises, and "for example, people could send the vodka they've bought for a wedding party for analysis."

Viyevsky said talks are being held with A.R.M.A.D.A Association of Resource Managers against Drug Abuse to decide in which laboratory citizens could apply to for such an analysis.

However, he said he was still concerned about the illegal production of alcohol in Ukraine. According to the experts' estimates, 35% of the vodka sold in the country is produced illegally.

"In fact, this is every second glass and every second bottle," he added.

In turn, the chief pediatric toxicologist at the Ukrainian Health Ministry, Borys Sheiman, reported that in 2011, 36,680 poisoning cases were registered in Ukraine, of which 15,382 cases concerned ethanol poisoning, including 5,300 that resulted in fatalities.

An alcohol policy is a state policy aimed at reducing the rates of death, disease and social problems connected with alcohol.

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