By Albert Allotey
Accra, Oct 1, GNA – The West African Alcohol Policy Alliance (WAAPA) has launched a five-year Strategic Plan (2022-2027) to prevent and reduce the harmful use of alcohol.
It is also to attain the multiple goals and targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The Plan would particularly focus on achieving Goals three and five, which states; “Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse including narcotics drugs abuse and Harmful use of alcohol.”
Mr Mahama Asei Seini, the Deputy Minister of Health who performed the launch said the Ministry of Health was committed to the mission of WAAPA and called for continuous support from FORUT Norway, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners for the implementation of the strategic plan to make the West African Region alcohol harm-free.
He said the Ministry would continue to provide funds and expertise through its departments and agencies to ensure comprehensive implementation of the Ghana National Alcohol Policy and its related legislations and actions plans towards the attainment of the Global Alcohol Action Plan.
Mr Seini, who is also the Member of Parliament for Daboya/Mankarigu commended the WAAPA Board, the Regional Secretariat, the National Alliances of WAAPA and all those involved in the development, reviews, and adoption of the strategic plan.
Mrs Boi-Jeneh Jalloh, WAAPA Board Treasurer in a welcoming address stated that WAAPA is a coalition of civil society organisations and public health professionals who focus on advocating and assisting in the development, implementation and enforcement of evidence-based alcohol policies, programmes, and legislation in the West Africa Region.
The Alliance is a member of the Global Alcohol Policy alliance (GAPA) and an Observer to the World Health Organisation Regional Committee for Africa (WHO AFRO).
Mrs Jalloh mentioned some of the key objectives of the WAAPA as to promote and facilitate information sharing on alcohol and alcohol related issues; initiate, facilitate, and conduct research on alcohol prevention, policies, and programmes.
Others are to encourage, support and strengthen partnerships between member organisations and governments on the implementation of alcohol policies and programmes.
She said some of the activities undertaken by the Alliance include the formation of nine credible National Alcohol Policy Alliances in Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Ghana, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Burkina Faso, and Benin and has registered eight alliances in eight countries.
Mrs Jalloh stated that since 2018 the WAAPA has received grant from FORUT Norway for advocacy, capacity building, policy development and implementation to address alcohol harm.
She said in a bid for WAAPA to further advance its development and mission the national alliances would mobiliser resources to comprehensively implement the Strategic Plan.
“Finally, WAAPA affirms its commitment to strengthen its collaboration with WHO AFRO, ECOWAS WAHO and other inter-government organisations and to support its national alliances to continue to collaborate with their respective government towards the development, implementation and enforcement of national alcohol policies,” she stated.
The Board Treasurer expressed gratitude to FORUT Norway for providing resources for the development and launching of the Strategic Plan and to the South Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance for their support to the programme.
Mrs Olivia Boateng, Director, Tobacco and Substance of Abuse Directorate of Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) who made a presentation on the progress in reducing and preventing alcohol harm in Ghana said the launch of the Strategic Plan was a welcome intervention in the fight to reduce and prevent the harmful use of alcohol.
She said the FDA in collaboration with various stakeholders were drafting and reviewing the Harmful use of Alcohol Regulations, 2021 and that the purpose was to highlight public health issues in respect of harmful use of alcohol.
“The Regulation among other things criminalises 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 premises if the FDA considers it necessary in the public interest,” she stated.
Mrs Boateng said the FDA has developed a guideline for the regulation of advertisements including alcoholic beverages, as part of measures to reduce the abuse of alcohol.
The launch was attended by dignitaries from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Nambia, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and Norway.