New research has revealed the Pacific region is facing a growing problem with alcohol.
The report, commissioned by the Australian National Council on Drugs, looks at drug and alcohol use in 16 Pacific countries including Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
The council’s executive director Gino Vumbaca says alcohol was the biggest problem drug across the board, followed by cannabis.
Mr Vumbaca says they are starting to see serious flow-on effects from alcohol abuse in the region.
“It’s similar to what we’re seeing in Australia,” he said.
“We’re seeing reports of alcohol-related violence and abuse. We’re seeing long-term health problems in terms of liver and heart conditions and damage, but we’re also seeing intoxication playing a part here,: he said.
“That’s proving to be a real risk for unsafe sexual practices.”
He has urged the Australian Government to intervene and says the alcohol industry also has a responsibility to help by providing expertise.
“It’s a common cry here, but it’s even harder in the Pacific to train and keep qualified people there,” he said.
“But we need that to actually start to get a better understanding of the dimensions of the problem and what the best solutions are to implement.
“You need people who’ve been trained in these health areas.”
He says until now there has been no clear indication of the effects of substance abuse there.
“There are some significant gaps in some countries on data, but at least we’re starting to get a much clearer picture on the harm caused by alcohol,” he said.
He says the Pacific countries are often forgotten in regional strategies and this issue has been no exception.
The report is being formally launched by the Federal Government today.