Call for action to reduce the harmful use of alcohol

Countries agree to fight the harmful use of alcohol with global strategy
21 MAY 2010 | GENEVA -- For the first time, delegations from all 193 Member States of World Health Organization (WHO) reached consensus at the World Health Assembly on a resolution to confront the harmful use of alcohol -- which contributes to poor health globally, can devastate families and damage the structure of communities.

Facts on alcohol
Every year, the harmful use of alcohol kills 2.5 million people, including 320 000 young people between 15 and 29 years of age. It is the eight leading risk factor for deaths globally, and harmful use of alcohol was responsible for almost 4% of all deaths in the world, according to the estimates for 2004.
In addition to the resolution, a global strategy developed by WHO in close collaboration with Member States provides a portfolio of policy options and interventions for implementation at national level with the goal to reduce the harmful use of alcohol worldwide. The resolution endorses the strategy and urges countries to complement and support national responses to public health problems caused by the harmful use of alcohol.

Ten target areas
Ten recommended target areas for policy options include health services' responses, community action, pricing policies and reducing the public health impact of illicit alcohol and informally produced alcohol. WHO was also requested to support countries in implementing the strategy and monitor progress at global, regional and national levels.
Harmful drinking is also a major avoidable risk factor for noncommunicable diseases, in particular cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver and various cancers. It is also associated with various infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS and TB, as well as road traffic accidents, violence and suicides.

Successful implementation of the strategy will require concerted action by countries, effective global governance and appropriate engagement of all relevant stakeholders. To this end, WHO will also encourage that the strategies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol are included as an integral part of work on global development and in related investment decisions.

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