FORMER GAA president and healthcare professional, Dr Mick Loftus of Crossmolina, has called for drastic action and a more responsive Government plan in relation to alcohol related deaths in Mayo, after the publication of a report last week.
The report by the Health Research Board which studied fatalities resulting from alcohol dependency and alcohol related deaths between 2004 and 2008 found that Mayo had the highest incidence of traumatic and medically induced deaths as a result of the intoxicant.
Speaking to The Mayo News, Dr Loftus said that urgent action is required to curb life threatening illnesses and premature deaths that are blighting the county.
“I think within the county we’re so ambivalent in relation to alcohol. It’s a potent drug and people just don’t realise that.”
On Sunday, British Open champion Darren Clarke was acclaimed in the media for his remarkable victory but Dr Loftus was a little disappointed with the predictable way in which this triumph was portrayed.
“I’m very sad to see one of our top golfers on the front pages of the newspapers today (Monday) drinking a pint. It was the same a few weeks ago when president Obama visited. It’s having a profound effect on our young people and that is why they are drinking more.”
In France, the Loi Evin, prohibits alcohol sponsorship and also bans alcohol advertising on TV and cinemas as well as in youth magazines. Dr Loftus said a similar response is needed here. “In France you cannot advertise or be sponsored by alcohol companies. The Liverpool team played in France and they had to remove their sponsors. It has had a very positive effect over there.”
The report’s findings revealed there were 1.1 deaths per 100,000 of the population in Mayo, which is the highest for any area in the entire country.
Deaths from alcohol dependence and alcohol related incidences in Mayo was found to be 5.1 deaths per 100,000 people. In Galway and Sligo this figure was much lower at 2.7 deaths and 3.1 deaths respectively. Dr Loftus said these results highlights yet again the intolerable repercussions that drinking is having in the county.
“There were two previous reports in to alcohol abuse in the nineties and there was very little done about them. The Government need to take some form of action. If there was anything else that was causing the deaths or the harm that alcohol creates it would be inoculated straight away.”
The report was created as a result of collaborative data from the Coroner Service, the Central Treatment List, the In-Patient enquiry scheme and the General Mortality Register. Dr Loftus said the results highlight a stark negligence in how alcohol is promoted and advertised in this country.
Dr Loftus said he has no problem with alcohol in moderation but it is the vehicle with which it is delivered to young people that is creating so many problems. “If people want to have a drink that is fine but it really shouldn’t be promoted like it is” he concludes.