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WHO Calls on Nations to Address Excessive Alcohol Use

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Price controls and marketing regulations are among 10 policy options outlined in a resolution aimed at cutting excessive alcohol use, which was endorsed this week by the 193 member states of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“The more affordable alcohol is — the lower its price, or the more disposable income people have — the more it is consumed and the greater level of related harm in both high- and low-income countries,” according to the document, Reuters reported May 20. “Modelling shows that setting a minimum price per unit gram of alcohol reduces consumption and alcohol-related harm.”

The non-binding resolution also calls for improved responses to alcohol from health services, community action, and reducing the impact of illicitly produced alcohol. “The resolution and the strategy set priority areas for global action, provide guidance to countries and give a strong mandate to WHO to strengthen action at all levels on reducing harmful use of alcohol,” said WHO assistant Director-General Ala Alwan.

Youth binge drinking and other misuse of alcohol accounts for about 4 percent of all deaths worldwide and is the eighth-leading cause of death, according to the WHO. “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,” WHO noted.

 

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