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Germans among world's top drinkers, says survey

Known in particular for its tradition of beer drinking, Germany is one of the world's top 25 countries when it comes to alcohol consumption. But who's at the top of the list?

The roughly 11.4 liters (6.25 pints) of pure alcohol consumed on a per capital annual basis by people older than 15 puts Germany at 23rd place among the 194 World Health Organization (WHO) members studied for the agency's annual report on health statistic.

The average pure alcohol consumption worldwide stood at 6.4 liters, with significant variation across countries.  

Lithuanians drink the most, according to WHO, at 18.2 liters of pure alcohol per year, followed by Belarus (16.4), the Republic of Moldova (15.9), the Russian Federation (13.9), and Romania and the Czech Republic (tied with 13.7).

German drinkers rank close behind their counterparts in France, where per capita alcohol consumption is 11.7 liters, and ahead of Slovenia (11.3). With annual consumption of 0.1 liter per capita each, Mauritania and Libya tied as the world's least-boozy countries.

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Overall, WHO said treatment for alcohol and drug-use disorders worldwide was "inadequate."

Smoking

Smoking related deaths remain a leading health concern, with 1.1 billion people smoking tobacco. In a positive trend, 80 percent of the 180 countries that signed onto WHO's tobacco convention have strengthened tobacco laws and regulations. 

This year's WHO study was part of broader statistical research focused on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, a set of internationally agreed targets adopted in 2015 to track issues such as health, climate, sanitation and economic inequality.

More generally, the WHO found that maternal and newborn death rates have declined. However, the 2015 global neonatal mortality rate remained relatively high, at 19 deaths per 1,000 live births; the death rate for children younger than 5 stood at 43 per 1,000 live births. About 830 women died every day due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth in 2015, the WHO found.

After death by car accidents, suicide came as the second leading cause of death by injury at 800,000 cases. 

'Significant strides'

Improved collection of statistics allowed authorities to register 27 million of the world's 56 million estimated deaths in 2015 with a cause, compared with only about a third in 2005. The WHO reported that several countries, including China and Turkey, had made "significant strides" in data collection. Iran now records 90 percent of deaths with details of their causes - up from just 5 percent in 1999.

Though things have improved significantly in recent years, many countries still do not routinely collect high-quality health data, Marie-Paule Kieny, the WHO's assistant director-general for health systems and innovation, said in a statement. "If countries don't know what makes people get sick and die, it's a lot harder to know what to do about it," she said.

In other findings, the WHO reported an estimated 2.1 million new HIV infections in 2015 - 35 percent fewer than in 2000. Researchers also found an estimated 212 million malaria cases globally in 2015; about 60 percent of the population at risk of the mosquito-borne disease had access to an insecticide-treated net 2015, a significant improvement from 34 percent in 2010.

mkg/rc (Reuters, dpa)

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