As you all know, mostly through following Sven-Olov’s and Kristina’s blog, IOGT International is very engaged in and committed to the global work, led by the World Health Organization, to control and prevent NCDs.
We issue press releases and contribute to consultations; we push back and state our concern together with our members and partners on Big Alcohol’s role and we attend meetings. In that spirit, I am happy to be able to present to you today a brief report that our friends Dag and Øystein send to us from Johannesburg, South Africa, and the WHO Africa Region Stakeholders Dialogue on Non-communicable Diseases:
“Øystein and I were present, and we got the manuscript [of the closing speech by WHO Regional Director, editor]. It was a very good conference, in all respects. 44 countries, a selected number of NGOs, among them Blue Cross and FORUT, the only non-African agencies present. SAAPA [Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance] was there, and FORUT also funded the participation for Moses [Waweru, the Chairman] of EAAPA [East African Alcohol Policy Alliance, editor]. We had a lot of good SAAPA/EAAPA/FORUT discussion along the way!
“You can get our report from the meeting later, but just let me mention these observations here and now:
Among the four NCD risk factors, alcohol definitely had the biggest attention in the discussions. Surprisingly, as we often experience that alcohol is attempted side-tracked in the global processes.
Many countries were committed to a comprehensive alcohol policy, but experience many barriers. Not the least interference by the industry, which was mentioned by many speakers.
Heavy criticism of the alcohol industry in many interventions, both in presentations and in discussions* Official WHO people, both from Geneva and Africa, were surprisingly tough in their criticism of the alcohol industry and very clear on their conflict of interest. “Alcohol industry around the table in policy development; no way” – this was the opinion of almost all WHO speakers. The Regional Director was more careful in his closing remarks, as you will see in the link from Maik.
We thought from the outset that we would have to fight hard to be heard with our policy opinions, based on experiences from the global NCD process, but that turned out to be very wrong! What happens next is of course a different matter… The fight is not over, but the Africa meeting was a very positive leg of the journey.
Project Coordinator FORUT”
FORUT Norway is a member organization of IOGT International.
For more reading:
An article by FORUT on the SAAPA
WHO Regional Director’s closing remarks, stakeholders dialogue on NCDs, 20 March 2013