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WHO Moves to Stop Women of Childbearing Age From Drinking Alcohol

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has proposed strategies to prevent women of childbearing age, children and pregnant women from consuming alcohol.

In its “Global alcohol action plan 2022-2030”, aimed at strengthening the implementation of strategies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, WHO said it was pertinent to create adequate awareness on the harmful effects of alcoholic drinks and their socioeconomic impact.

WHO specifically demanded that “appropriate attention should be given to the prevention of the initiation of drinking among children and adolescents, prevention of drinking among pregnant women and women of childbearing age.”

It also opined that people should be guided and protected from pressures to drink, mostly in societies where people drink excessively.

“The impact of harmful use of alcohol on health and well-being should not be limited to the impact on NCDs, but should be expanded to include other areas of health and development such as mental health, injuries, violence, infectious diseases, productivity at workplaces, family functioning and a ‘harm to others’ perspective,” it said.

To ensure the prevention, the global public health body, noted that special efforts such as advocacy and policy measures among decision-makers will improve awareness of the risks of alcohol consumption.

It stressed that such activities require the mobilisation of stakeholders who coordinate actions that result in the reduction of its consumption.

WHO proposed that “World no alcohol day/week” be celebrated to create more awareness as well as give attention to the problem. It, however, said that public health advocacy would only succeed if they are backed with evidence and based on emerging opportunities and if the arguments are free from moralising.

“The international discourse on alcohol policy development and implementation should address health inequalities associated with the harmful use of alcohol and its broad socioeconomic impact, including its impact on attainment of the health and other targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the body said in a document sighted by Peoples Gazette.

It further recommended that modern technologies and multimedia materials and behavioural change campaigns are required to ensure proper advocacy.

“Such awareness, along with the development and enforcement of alcohol policies, needs to be protected from interference by commercial interests. Appropriate mechanisms that involve academia and civil society must be set up to systematically monitor such interference,” it further said.

Meanwhile, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, in May said that no fewer than 1.2 million people die annually due to exposure to tobacco smoke.

In her message to mark 2021 World No Tobacco Day on May 31, Ms Moeti said that “More than 75 million people in the African region use some form of tobacco. This burden is likely to increase as consumer purchasing power improves coupled with intensive efforts by the tobacco industry to expand the African market.’’

The WHO official explained that public health advocates should pursue counter-marketing campaigns that highlight the many risks of tobacco use.

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