Civil society actors in health thank Supreme Court for ruling in favour of FDA

By Albert Allotey

Accra, June 19, GNA – Civil society actors in health and development have expressed gratitude to the imminent panel of judges for ruling in favour of Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) for banning well-known personalities and celebrities from alcohol beverage advertisement. 

This was in a statement signed by Mr Labram Musah, Executive Director of Programmes, Vision for Alternative Development, and Ghana National Coordinator – Ghana NCD Alliance after the Supreme Court had pronounced judgement today (Wednesday) on the writ challenging the FDA directive. 

It said; “We thank the imminent panel of Judges who stood for public health interest over commercial interest of few individuals. We are grateful for supporting the interest of Ghanaian children, the youth, poor and vulnerable from the harm of alcohol use and exposure to alcohol products.” 

“In the pursuit of safeguarding the health and well-being of our nation’s children and youth, today marks a pivotal moment as we celebrate the verdict by the apex court in the case challenging the authority of the FDA over celebrity endorsements of alcohol advertisement.  

“We stand at the forefront of a critical battle, one that juxtaposes predatory commercial exploitation against the fundamental rights of our children,” the statement said. 

It stated that the evidence presented throughout the trial has illuminated the dire consequences of unchecked alcohol marketing, particularly when facilitated by high-profile figures or celebrities.  

“From the corridors of UNICEF to the pages of The Lancet, the global consensus is clear: the proliferation of alcohol promotion, especially among impressionable young minds, poses an imminent threat to public health and societal well-being,” it said. 

The statement said every decision to drink alcohol would be influenced, at least partly, by some form of marketing and that the influx of high-profile mass media advertising and digital marketing of alcohol triggers purchases that consumers did not set out intending to make.  

“But when it comes to young people and children, evidence is overwhelming that alcohol marketing is linked with starting to drink and excessive drinking,” it noted. 

The statement said it was obvious that the decision of the court and other interventions such as awareness campaign and tax increase on alcohol products would to a large extent reduce the upsurge in non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, stroke, kidney, liver, heart diseases and other cardiovascular and chronic diseases.  

It would ill also reduce the health expenditure and the burden on the national health insurance scheme. 

It stated that Ghana has taken a bold stance in implementing regulations aimed at shielding our youth from the harmful allure of celebrity-endorsed alcohol.  

“The ban on such promotions, enforced by the FDA, stands as a testament to our commitment to prioritizing the welfare of our future generations over commercial interests,” the statement said. 

It stated; “By this verdict, we reaffirm our unwavering dedication to upholding these vital protections. We refuse to succumb to the pressures of profit-driven agendas that jeopardize the health and prosperity of our nation.” 

The statement called on all stakeholders-government, civil society, media, academic and research institutions, patient affected by alcohol use, religious and community groups including the well-known personalities and celebrities-to unite safeguarding the youth from the perils of alcohol marketing.  

“Let us stand as beacons of responsibility, guiding our children towards a future defined by health, opportunity, and empowerment,” it said. 

“This landmark verdict by Ghana’s Supreme Court will serve as a case citation for other countries when formulating public health policies regarding alcohol use and other health harming products such as tobacco and sugar drinks.  The global public health community has followed this case with express interest and this ruling will go into the annals of history.”   

The statement said by restricting the influence of celebrity endorsements on alcohol consumption, the decision aimed to reduce the appeal of alcohol to vulnerable populations, particularly young people. 

“This outcome underscores the importance of regulatory actions that protect public health by limiting the power of marketing strategies that can lead to harmful behaviours.  

“Let us continue to fight to esteem public health over the parochial interest of the alcohol industry and other health harming industry products such as tobacco, sugar sweetened beverages among others,” it stated.