Eighty per cent of 14 and 15-year-olds consume alcohol: Survey

WINDHOEK: Approximately 80 per cent of 14 and 15-year-old school-going children consume alcohol at a high rate, a survey by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) suggests.

The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD) Namibia was conducted from 17 to 27 February in selected Namibian schools countrywide. It was aimed at investigating the prevalence of drug abuse amongst school-going youth, especially those aged between 13 and 16 years.

Programme Manager for Alcohol and Drugs in the MoHSS, Rene Adams told Nampa here on Tuesday that observations from the survey on substance and alcohol abuse among school-going children alludes to the fact that the use of alcohol among 13-year-olds is less.

She said the use of drugs among the school-going children does not seem high, but there are indeed a number of learners who use drugs.

“Many learners are aware of drugs and know somebody who is using drugs, but a low percentage of learners are using drugs,” Adams noted.

She said a total of 6 000 learners completed the survey questionnaire, which had between 60 and 70 questions.

Adams expressed gratitude for the assistance and response from the schools, saying most schools received them ‘with open arms’ and helped them.

She, however, made it clear that the process of data entry will start next week and it will take another three months before the preliminary findings will be concluded.

This will be followed by a report to be compiled within two months before it’s launched by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Richard Kamwi.

Meanwhile, MoHSS Public Relations Officer (PRO), Esther Paulus said in a media statement issued last month prior to the commencement of the survey that the survey was prompted by concerns raised by the Minister of Education, David Namwandi and the Minister of Safety and Security, Immanuel Ngatjizeko on the magnitude of drug abuse among school learners.

She said the findings of the survey will guide practitioners and stakeholders to develop interventions which will address drug abuse amongst youth in Namibia.

ESPAD is a collaborative effort of independent research teams in more than 40 European countries and the largest cross-national research project on adolescent substance use in the world.

The overall aim with the project is to repeatedly collect comparable data on substance use among 15 to 16-year-old students in as many European countries as possible.