The World Health Organization (WHO) has for a decade worked to implement the WHO Global Alcohol Strategy since the adoption at the World Health Assembly in 2010. But the work has suffered from a severe lack of funding. Evidence shows that governments are off track to reach voluntary targets to reduce per capita alcohol use by 10% until 2025. In some countries and regions, the alcohol consumption trend is even increasing.
Despite the lack of resources, the WHO, in collaboration with other UN and non-governmental organizations, including Movendi International, has developed a technical package of the five most-cost-effective alcohol policy solutions and an initiative around it in order to support Member States to implement the WHO Global Alcohol Strategy and reach the SDGs.
The SAFER initiative was launched at the UN General Assembly in September 2018 during a high-level side event. With strong support from Movendi International, WHO launched the groundbreaking new initiative and technical package – outlining five high-impact strategies that can help governments prevent and reduce alcohol harm and related health, social and economic consequences.
However, the implementation of SAFER has been slow due to the lack of funding. But now the ground-breaking initiative receives a much-needed grant from Norway. As a follow-up to the Norwegian strategy launched last year to include work on non-communicable diseases in the country’s development policy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently announced that Norway will step up its support for WHO’s work in the field of alcohol prevention and control.
NOK 5 million are allocated annually to support WHO’s SAFER initiaitve. The grant is intended to be long-term and should lend WHO some long-term security to develop and advance the work with SAFER in high-burden countries.
Norway also contributes vital funding support to other parts of the work on non-communicable diseases. The background is that diseases such as cancer, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease and poor mental health have several common risk factors, including alcohol, tobacco and unhealthy diet – and constitute a major obstacle to sustainable development around the world.