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Rwanda: Study ranks Nyarugenge District with the highest prevalence of alcohol abuse among adolescent youth   

By Ange de la Victoire DUSABEMUNGU

Kigali, 24th November, 2022: A new study conducted by Enabel, the Belgian development agency has shown that Alcohol and cannabis are the most used substances among adolescents residing in seven district namely Nyarugenge, Rulindo, Gakenke, Karongi, Nyamasheke, Rusizi and Gisagara.

According to the statistics of this Study conducted through Barame Project, on the Prevalence of Drugs and Substance abuse among adolescents, for the Alcohol use, 56.1% of the surveyed youth had tried Alcohol at least once in their lifetime, 40.5% during the past 12 months and 31.6% during the 30 days preceding the study.

It was noted that overall, 13.7% of males and 2.7% of females had at least one alcohol binge drinking episode over the past 30 days.Boys aged 18 and above represent the majority of binge drinkers at 9.2%.

Presenting the findings, Dr. Darius Gishoma, a clinical psychologist from mental health department at the College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Rwanda revealed that “Alcohol abuse or binge drinking varies across districts where Nyarugenge district presents the highest number at 23%, Rulindo 5%,  Gakenke 5%, Gisagara 11%, Karongi 10%, Nyamasheke 11% and Rusizi District with the prevalence of 8%.”

The study results also showed that for the Non-Alcoholic drug abuse, cannabis is the most illegal substance used by adolescents in the seven districts with 9.3% reporting having used cannabis at least once in their lifetime; 6.9 of adolescents consumed cannabis in the past 12 months while 5.3 used cannabis in the last 30 days preceding the interview.

This study confirms the association of drug abuse and mental health conditions as 3.6 and 1.2 of the youth in the seven districts met the diagnosis criteria for alcohol use disorder and non-alcoholic psychoactive substance use disorders.

It was also highlighted that in alcohol abuse or drug abuse is due many factors including death of caregivers, having history in the family of conflicts, serious physical violence, death of parents or close relatives, history of drug or alcohol abuse, inability to afford food, having history of unintended pregnancy, being suspended from school, living in urban areas, having history of anxiety and depressive disorders among others

The release of these findings was coincide with the release of findings of an assessment of the quality of youth corners and other related youth friendly services at the health centers and expectations of young people and the community and Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) study on Adolescents and Sexual and Reproductive Health services to strengthen the Youth-Friendly Centres services regarding ASRH.

The studies were presented in a high-level dissemination meeting that brought together governmental and non-governmental organisations and stakeholders, to discuss research findings and recommendations for more targeted strategies regarding Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health (ASRH) and drug abuse.

They were conducted in the framework of Enabel’s Barame project which focuses on the Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health in Rwanda. 

The purpose of these studies is to provide a view of the current situation on Adolescents’ health and to establish a baseline in order to develop specific activities aimed to address the identified gaps and to elaborate better targeted strategies. 

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Health, Dr. Daniel Ngamije said that the drugs and alcohol abuse can put adolescents at increased risk of significant harm, including overdose, motor vehicle crashes, violent behavior, and consequences of unwanted sexual intercourse including early pregnancy, sexually transmitted infection. These three studies will help to carry out evidence-based prevention campaigns and to improve the quality of youth corners and other related youth friendly services in Rwanda.

In his remarks, the Ambassador of Belgium in Rwanda, Bert Versmessen said “We want to see a young generation well informed to make informed decisions for a better future. The contribution of Enabel’s Barame project by investing in these studies, gave us a big picture and helped in identifying gaps where we should orient our efforts. Youth problems are crosscutting and multifactorial, requiring the commitment and a close collaboration of different ministries and actors to support and orient the youth in their choice of life. We are committed to continuing the partnership with the Ministry of Health and other key players who have interest in building a healthy and prosperous nation. Our youth, our power. Ibuye ryagaragaye ntiriba ricyishe isuka, let’s act now for the Rwanda we want.”

The studies were carried out in seven districts of intervention of Enabel’s Barame project, namely Gisagara in the Southern Province, Rulindo and Gakenke in the Northern Province, Karongi, Nyamasheke and Rusizi in the Western Province and Nyarugenge in the City of Kigali and targeted young adults aged between 13 and 24.

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