Monday, September 29, 2008

Brifing note on who Alcohol Policy in Africa

source: Republic of Botswana (28/9/08): TAUTONA TIMES no 29 of 2008
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President "Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline"


Attached for your information is a copy of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Director for Africa's report "ACTIONS TO REDUCE THE HARMFUL USE OF ALCHOHOL" , which was considered and adopted at the 58th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, which was held in Yaoundé, Cameroon earlier this month [see also “D”].

The report recommends an increase in taxes to influence prices and reduce alcohol affordability one of a number of long-term actions to fight alcohol consumption.

The Yaoundé meeting's call for price intervention is in keeping with the findings of the WHO's most recent GLOBAL STATUS REPORT: ALCOHOL POLICY, which cited "Price and Taxation" as one of six recommended areas of intervention, further noting:

"There is good evidence that that higher taxes and higher prices can reduce alcohol related harm. The tax rate may need to be weighed against any risk of illegal production, but many countries put tax stamps on bottle labels. The report recommends that traditional brews be included in alcohol tax systems to keep all consumption and harm down. In some countries the real price of alcohol has been falling, in part because the tax has not been increased in line with inflation. It was noted that industrialised countries are not using alcohol tax to its full potential as a public health measure. The report ranks tax high on the list of possible policy measures, as it is effective, cost-effective, easy to implement and can generate government revenue."

The same 2004 report goes on to express concern that alcohol is generally sold more cheaply in developing countries, especially in Africa, noting that relative to national wealth, "one beer in Europe costs the same as nine beers in Africa."

The Yaoundé Conference's call for action also echoes the findings of the Africa Regional Director's report entitled "HARMFUL USE OF ALCOHOL IN THE WHO AFRICAN REGION: SITUATION ANALYSIS AND PRESPECTIVES" , which was discussed by the Africa Regional Committee at its 2007 meeting in Brazzaville, where it was concluded that:

"The enormous cost of harmful use of alcohol in terms of health and social harms cannot be ignored and calls for regulation of alcohol. In the majority of African countries, regulatory and legislative mechanisms regarding trade, industrial and agricultural decisions on alcohol that consider public health, advertising and marketing, availability, pricing and illicit marketing do not exist or are not enforced".

The Brazzaville report goes on to conclude that alcohol abuse is having a significant social and economic impact on the continent, resulting in family disruption, child abuse and neglect, malnutrition, work problems, violence, crime, social stigmatization and poverty.

In the case of South Africa, the Brazzaville report further cites evidence that the resulting cost to the economy of alcohol abuse is estimated to be about US 1.7 billion per annum or 2% of the Gross Domestic Product.

It also observes that: "Studies in Africa have shown increasing evidence linking alcohol consumption with high-risk sexual behaviour, infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and reduced adherence to anti-retroviral and tuberculosis treatment."


D. Also in the news from others:

NB: News reports, statements and/or views reproduced below are NOT necessarily those of Government of Botswana.

D1) 22/9/09: The Post (Cameroon) - "WHO Recommends Increase in Beer Prices"

For your information please find below a news article, published online by the Post, Cameroon's leading English language newspaper, which is also located @

Additional reports on the topic can be found online, e.g. @ afrol News, Joy online, etc.

The article reports on the findings of the 58th Session of the World Health Organisation (WHO) Regional Committee for Africa, which was held earlier this month in Yaounde, Cameroon.

At the conference the WHO's Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, recommended an increase in taxes and prices of alcoholic drinks, as part of a 10-point action plan to curb the harmful consumption of alcohol on the continent.

[START]: "WHO Recommends Increase in Beer Prices" by Nformi Sonde Kinsai

In a move to stem the harmful use of alcohol, the World Health Organisation, WHO, Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Luis Gomes Sambo, has recommended an increase in taxes and prices of alcoholic drinks.

Health experts believe that alcohol constitutes a serious threat to health and development efforts of the African Region, Dr. Sambo, who devoted part of his biennial report at the just-ended Yaounde conference of the 58th Session of the WHO Regional Committee for Africa, on the negative effects of alcohol, proposed a 10-point action plan to curb the harmful consumption of alcohol.

Amongst the need for increased taxes and prices of alcoholic products, he also called for restricting sale; regulating marketing; enacting, strengthening or enforcing drinking and driving laws; establishing and strengthening alcohol information and surveillance systems; increasing community action; strengthening health sector response; raising political commitment and building partnerships.

According to the Regional Director, in 2000 and 2002, estimates of total deaths in the region as a result of harmful use of alcohol showed a significant burden of 2.1 and 2.2 percent respectively.

Globally, in 2000, harmful use of alcohol was responsible for four percent of the burden of disease and 3.2 percent of all deaths. The report shows increases in alcohol consumption and changes in drinking patterns among adolescents as well as the narrowing gap between men and women drinkers.

"Health and social costs linked to the harmful use of alcohol both to the consumer and society include unemployment, crime and violence especially against women and increased admission to healthcare facilities," the WHO Regional Director's report highlights.

Apart from excessive alcohol consumption, Dr. Sambo equally told the delegates that non-communicable diseases such as injuries, mental health problems and substance abuse like tobacco, is on the rise in the region. He noted that the consequences of these from findings are a high prevalence of hypertension and high blood sugar in some countries, orchestrating the establishment of non-communicable disease control programmes.

He said by December 2007, 35 countries had ratified the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Sambo also said Global Youth Tobacco Survey in some 31 countries show that 30 to 80 percent of youths aged 13 to 15 had been exposed to second smoke.

Other key issues brought up by member states of WHO for African Region included the need for increasing advocacy for strengthening health systems in order to improve scaling-up of key programmes such as HIV, TB, and malaria.

These, according to them, have an important impact on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs. Worries were also expressed on increase in HIV prevalence despite ongoing HIV prevention and treatment efforts.

The Sambo report had noted that HIV/AIDS pandemic is still an enormous barrier to socio-economic development in sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for more than 68 percent of global HIV infections and more than 76 percent of AIDS-related deaths.

"In 2007, an estimated 1.7 million adults and children had become infected with HIV," the report further notes. Other areas of concern during the five-day conference included the health of women; strengthening public health laboratories; primary healthcare; elimination of iodine deficiency disorders; kicking polio out of Africa, prevention and control of cancer and improvement in patient safety. The conference brought together health ministers and experts from 46 countries.


sandy said...

The enormous cost of harmful use of alcohol in terms of health and social harms cannot be ignored and calls for regulation of alcohol. In the majority of African countries.
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Anonymous said...

The many countrys now-a-days gain more profint due to the alcohol sales only, so they dont want to take away this profits.

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