The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday released a new initiative and technical package outlining five high-impact strategies that can help governments reduce the harmful use of alcohol and related health, social and economic consequences.
SAFER is the newest WHO-led roadmap to support governments in taking practical steps to accelerate progress on health, beat non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through addressing the harmful use of alcohol.
"We are proud to introduce SAFER - a package of proven interventions to reduce the harms caused by alcohol, and a new partnership to catalyse global action," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation. "We need governments to put in place effective alcohol control policy options and public policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol."
SAFER provides five high-impact strategic actions prioritised for implementation to promote health and development:
-Strengthen restrictions on alcohol availability.
-Advance and enforce drink driving counter measures.
-Facilitate access to screening, brief interventions and treatment.
-Enforce bans or comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertising, sponsorship, and promotion.
-Raise prices on alcohol through excise taxes and pricing policies.
-Action is needed to reduce the burden of alcohol-related harm in low-, middle- and high-income countries.
-Health impact of alcohol use
Alcohol consumption contributes to more than three million deaths globally every year and over 5 percent of the global burden of disease and injury, according to the recently issued WHO Global Status Report (GSR) on Alcohol and Health 2018.
It is also a major risk factor for NCDs, including cancers and cardiovascular diseases, communicable diseases such as TB and HIV/AIDS, violence, and injuries. Globally, alcohol consumption is the seventh leading risk factor for premature death and disability.
"We have seen too little progress since the endorsement of the 'Global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol' by the World Health Assembly eight years ago. But SAFER brings new impetus for action," said WHO Assistant Director-General Dr Svetlana Axelrod.