After three years of work adopted last week the World Health Assembly WHO's Global Alcohol Action Plan 2022–2030 (GAAP). It is a historical document that can help member states implement effective, protective and evidence-based policies against alcohol-related harm.
The IOGT-NTO movement has been working on the process since its inception. We have together with our partner organizations and Movendi International focused on the issue in both our partner countries and in our dialogue with the Ministry of Social Affairs.
Swedish Government has through the EU and the Nordic-Baltic group shown clear support for the action plan, both at the WHO's board meeting in January and now at the World Health Assembly's meeting. We are happy about that.
However, action plans are only useful if they are implemented. Much work remains to be done to ensure that the work on GAAP receives sufficient resources and that low- and middle-income countries receive the support they need to implement the action plan.
It is also important that the right infrastructure is created for the work with GAAP now that the plan has been adopted. We suggest several things that should be developed, including:
- A global alcohol tax initiative (which not only contributes to reducing alcohol harm, but can also fund health initiatives and reduce inequality)
- A recurring global ministerial conference on alcohol - preferably with Sweden as the first host nation
- Better protection from the influence of the alcohol industry
Alcohol is one of the main risk factors behind ill health, and has a negative impact on the work with 14 of 17 goals in Agenda 2030. Low- and middle-income countries are disproportionately hard hit, while they often lack a protective alcohol policy. The same countries are seen as important markets by the global alcohol industry - which invest huge resources in lobbying, smearing research, marketing and other efforts that exacerbate the problems and delay effective solutions.
From a development perspective there are therefore very large gains with good policy when it comes to the alcohol industry's products and methods. This action plan is a good step in the right direction - now we'll just make sure that the plan also becomes a reality!