Mongolia has one of the world’s highest alcoholism rates. According to a World Health Organization study, Mongolians are dependent on alcohol at a rate three times higher than Europeans. Some Mongolian provinces namely, Arkhangai, South Gobi and Uvs recently banned the sale and service of alcohol to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But increasing community initiatives are creating longer-term solutions through employment and support to people trying to get sober.
In 2009, South Gobi (Umnugobi) province banned the sale of alcoholic beverages on Wednesdays. In 2013, Alcoholics Anonymous started holding meetings in the province. And in 2017, MNT 100 million ($36,138) was allocated to a three-year alcohol prevention program. New initiatives to curb and prevent alcoholism continue, especially in the wake of precautions surrounding the new coronavirus.
South Gobi province’s police department organized a campaign against alcoholism called “No!” that was launched in February, just days after the country closed its border with China, shutdown schools and suspended public transportation. Organizations and local authorities increased online advertising and public discussions about alcoholism. The campaign is performing especially well on Facebook, with many Mongolians changing their profile photos to the “No!” logo. The governor of South Gobi province also banned the sale and serving of alcohol from March 10 until April 1 to prevent the virus from spreading.
Even before these latest efforts, the results in this province were promising. According to an official study from 2018 on the state of alcohol consumption in Mongolia, the number of people treated for alcohol-related issues in South Gobi province decreased by five times between 2013 and 2018.
The ‘Light of Eternity’ organization has worked with more than 300 local people, providing many with jobs and support. But some fall back to alcohol. (source: Global Press Journal)