Thursday, 9 April 2009

Bhutan : Government will soon enforce stricter rules for bar license holders in the country

April 7: The government will soon be enforcing stricter rules while issuing bar licenses in the country. According to the department of trade there are more than 6,500 bars in the country. That’s one bar for every hundred Bhutanese. Hospital record also shows a proportionate increase in the number of people suffering from alcohol related diseases.

Travel to any part of the country, be it a small village or a big town, bars are everywhere. There are 6,500 bars in the country. Bars have mushroomed over the last so many years. To ensure that bars do not proliferate, the department says it will soon enforce stricter rules for issuing bar license.

Tax and fees on bar license will be increased and the dry day and bar closing time more strictly enforced strictly. It is apparent something has to be done.

Alcohol related disease is the third major cause of death at the national referral hospital. In 2008, the hospital treated around 90 patients with alcohol related illnesses. 21 of them died. So far this year, the hospital recorded 12 deaths from diseases directly linked to alcohol.

Doctors attributed the increasing number of patients coming to receive treatment for alcohol related disease to the easy availability of alcohol.

The Army Welfare Project distillery in Gelephu produces about 500,000 cases of alcohol every year. Of that 400,000 are consumed in Bhutan. Only about 100,000 are exported. The country also imported Nu 76 million worth of alcohol in 2008.

According to psychiatrists, alcohol dependent people also suffer from mental disorders. Dr Chencho Dorji, a psychiatrist at the national referral hospital in Thimphu said the long term effects of alcohol is more severe as it affects the brain causing different kinds of mental disorders.

Apart from deaths from alcohol related diseases, drunk driving is a leading cause of accidents. Traffic records show about fifty accidents caused by drunk driving in Thimphu alone last year.

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