A coalition of civil society organisations (CSOs) and public health professionals has launched a five-year strategic plan to tackle alcohol abuse and other alcohol-related issues.
The strategy, which spans September, 2022, to August, 2027, is aimed at preventing and reducing alcohol intake to help attain goals and targets as contained in the sustainable development goals (SDGs), particularly Goal 3.5 which states that "strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotics drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol".
The coalition, also known as the West African Alcohol Policy Alliance (WAAPA), plans to ensure a professional network of alcohol relevant evidence-based research and reporting to influence alcohol policy in the sub-region and increase universal, equitable and affordable access to rehabilitation of people with prolonged alcohol issues.
It will also mainstream mental health in alcohol harm reduction strategies and ensure high visibility on policy engagement with development partners and governments.
A Deputy Minister of Health, Mahama Asei Seini, said the government was committed to ensuring the successful implementation of the strategic plan.
“The Health Ministry will continue to commit funds and expertise through its departments and agencies to ensure the implementation of the alcohol policy and its related legislations and action plans towards the attainment of a global alcohol action plan,” he added.
The deputy minister, therefore, urged the World Health Organisation and other partners to support the implementation of the new plan to make the sub-region alcohol-harm-free.
The Director of the Tobacco and Substance Abuse Directorate of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Dr Olivia Boateng, also said the plan was a welcome intervention in the agency’s fight against the harmful use of alcohol, particularly in the sub-region where alcohol use accounted for 7.1 per cent and 2.2 per cent of the global burden of disease for males and females respectively, according to WHO.
She highlighted some of the steps taken by the authority over the years to combat the harmful use of alcohol and said it was also drafting and reviewing the Harmful Use of Alcohol Regulations Act, 2021.
“The regulations, among other things, criminalise the creation of conditions favourable to the use of alcoholic drinks.
“It also provides for the procedure to apply for licenses and the power to close down premises if the FDA considers it necessary in the public interest,” Dr Boateng added.