18 Mar 2010

Call to help Pacific countries fight alcohol abuse

5:54 pm on 18 March 2010

New Zealand and Australia are being called on to do more to help Pacific Island countries cope with the effects of rising alcohol consumption.

A study for the Australian National Council on Drugs found alcohol abuse in 16 Pacific countries was linked to surges in domestic violence and other crime.

The Council's executive officer, Gino Vumbaca, says while there are problems with drugs and kava, by far most of the abuse is linked to alcohol.

He says Australian and New Zealand businesses with interests in the region have a responsibility to help ensure the health of the population, and he says the governments of both countries need to step up.

Mr Vumbaca says they want a Pacific focus on substance abuse that is not all about law enforcement.

"We are not saying you don't do that but we are not matching it with an investment at the health side of the equation, either, about getting capacity and staff and the knowledge and expertise needed in the region to deal with education, prevention and treatment."

Gino Vumbaca of the Australian National Council on Drugs