Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a Movendi International member organization in Ghana, works tirelessly for improving alcohol policies, such as raising alcohol taxation to promote health and development for all. On October 3, the World Alcohol-Free Day, VALD renewed their call on the government to tackle alcohol harm as a human rights issue.
Despite the fact that the majority of people in Ghana and other low- and middle-income countries live alcohol-free, the alcohol industry aggressively targets these regions to grow their market and profits. Often Big Alcohol exploits gaps in alcohol legislation in these countries to target youth and children, hook people on their products, and drive consumption. This pressure and targeting takes away the freedom of Ghanaians to choose a healthy and sustainable way of life.
Alcohol is one of the main risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). As reported previously, NCDs such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, diabetes, and mental ill-health account for over 80,000 deaths in Ghana every year. And alcohol is a major risk factor across these NCDs. Therefore, alcohol is a threat to Ghanaians right to health.
Further alcohol is an obstacle to 14 of the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) as demonstrated by Movendi International.
Alcohol harm in Ghana
Alcohol harm is significant for youth in Ghana. The country ranks among those with some of the most years of life lost due to alcohol.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports 45% of alcohol consumers engage in heavy episodic alcohol use. And almost every second young man (age 15 to 19 years) in Ghana who consumes alcohol engages in binge alcohol use, despite a legal age limit of 18.
7.3% of Ghanaian men suffer from some alcohol use disorder which is higher than the regional average for WHO Africa.
Urgent government action needed
It is now already four years ago that Ghana last updated its national alcohol policy. And there is an urgent and growing need to curb the alcohol burden.
The WHO Global Alcohol Strategy provides guidance for policy-makers in Ghana by encouraging them to support children, youth and adults in their alcohol-free way of life and to protect them from pressures to start consuming alcohol.
VALD calls on the Ghanaian government especially the Ministry of Health and the Food and Drugs Authority to finalize and enact the national alcohol regulations. They recommend scientifically proven, highly effective alcohol policy solutions recommended by the WHO, the so called best buys which include raising alcohol taxes, banning alcohol advertising, and reducing the availability of alcohol. These solutions help reduce the alcohol and NCDs burden in Ghana and help promote well-being and happiness through protecting and supporting the alcohol-free way of life chosen by the majority of Ghanaians. As the WHO shows, 74% of all adults live free from alcohol in any given year.
We call on our political leaders to step up and take decisive action to protect and support all people who want to make healthy choices for themselves, their families, communities and our country and not to expose them to all forms of alcohol as we currently observe in Ghana,” said VALD in a statement, as per Express News Ghana.Vision for Alternative Development (VALD)