The Ministry of Health has submitted a national policy on preventing alcohol abuse to the Prime Minister for approval as health experts warn that alcohol abuse could take a devastating toll on future generations.

Under the policy, both beer and hard alcohol would be taxed more heavily, people would not be allowed to buy alcohol of any sort after 10pm and alcohol and beer trading businesses would be banned from hiring employees under 18 years of age.

Schools would be also asked to include information on alcohol’s harmful effects in the curriculum.

A national steering committee on preventing alcohol abuse will be set up with the participation of relevant ministries, such as health, industry, and trade and public security.

Drinking consistently and heavily for many years affects both the quantity and quality of a man's sperm, said Dr. To Vinh Ninh from the HCM City-based Gia Dinh People's Hospital.

Not only does alcohol damage liver cells that make protein during the sperm production process – "directly causing sterility" – but it also heightens the risk that children will suffer from mental and developmental disorders.

Ninh said about 45 percent of the childless couples who came to the hospital's Germ Technology Centre for treatment were there because the husband was an alcohol abuser.

About 35-40 percent of former male drinkers can father children, he added, although they would have to undergo a strenuous treatment lasting four to five years.

The amount of alcohol and beer consumed by people over 15 has more than doubled since the early 2000s, from 1.6 litres of alcohol and 10.4 litres of beer per month in 2000 to 4.1 litres of alcohol and 22 litres of beer per month in 2008, according to a Ministry of Health report.

In 2002, 46 percent of males and 1.9 percent of females in the country reported drinking alcohol; however, by 2008, that rate increased to 79.9 percent and 36.5 percent, respectively.

The report also said that 60 percent of domestic violence cases and 6 percent of accidents were caused by drunk men. Moreover, as many as 15 percent of sick beds in mental hospitals were occupied by people suffering from neurosis caused by alcohol abuse.-VNA