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Gov't working to reduce alcohol abuse among indigenous people

Gov't working to reduce alcohol abuse among indigenous people

Taipei, Feb. 1 (CNA) The government will continue promoting its policy to help reduce alcohol abuse among the country's aboriginal people, after initial signs of progress in this area, said officials at the Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples Sunday.
Last year, 12 of the more than 30 aboriginal townships across the country joined the council's efforts and succeeded in bringing down alcohol use among their residents to 53.1 percent, an average reduction of 7.6 percent compared to the 2007 ratio, said Council Minister Chang Jen-hsiang.
Chang called for greater participation by indigenous people in her council's efforts so as to help decrease the number of injuries and accidents among them resulting from alcohol use and to take better care of their health.
The mortality rate among Taiwan's aboriginal peoples is four to five times than that of the rest of the population, and the leading causes of death among the indigenous people are malignant tumor, liver diseases and accidents -- all of which are closely related to alcohol abuse, Chang said.
National Yang Ming University professor Kuo Shien-wen, who is in charge of a project launched by the council in 2005 to curb alcohol abuse among the indigenous people, said 12 aboriginal townships joined the project in 2007, while four withdrew and another four later entered the program.
Last year, seven of the eight townships actively participating in the program posted an average decline of 7.6 percent in the number of alcohol consumers among their residents from a year ago, recording a 53.1 percent alcohol use for 2008, he said.
Wulai township in northern Taiwan's Taipei County had the largest annual decrease of 24.9 percent in 2008, followed by Heping township in central Taiwan's Taichung County with 17.6 percent, and Namasia township in southern Kaohsiung County with 16 percent, he added.
Kuo said there is room for greater efforts to be made in this regard, as there are over 800 aboriginal tribes scattered throughout more than 30 townships across the country.
"So far, the anti-alcohol program has been advocated in a dozen townships nationwide," he said.
In 2009, the Council of Indigenous Peoples will allocate an some NT$10 million (US$298,000) -- an increase of NT$7 million from last year -- to continue the program, he added.
Due to long-term disadvantages encountered in the society, a large percent of aboriginal people of both genders, have developed the habit of drinking alcohol as a way of dealing with their problems.
(By Flor Wang)