The World Health Organization’s regional office for Europe has opened three consultations on the draft of the “Framework to strengthen implementation of the WHO European Action Plan to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol (EAPA), 2022–2025”. The three consultations are conducted with civil society, Member States, and members of the public.
WHO Europe invited members of the public to submit their comments on the draft via an online survey between March 15 and 25, 2022.
The consultations will collect feedback on the draft framework that reflects regional needs and priorities. All people who have experienced harm due to alcohol, are part of an affected family or community, work on these issues, or have experience inside or outside the health sector are invited to submit their comments.
WHO Europe drafted the Framework in accordance with the regional plan for implementation of the program budget for 2022–2023 (EUR/RC71/12) and as requested by Member States. The Framework aims to reduce alcohol consumption levels and the associated health harms through effective policy action. It will be submitted to the WHO Regional Committee for Europe at its 72nd session in September 2022. The Framework will support the WHO European Programme of Work 2020–2025 – “United Action for Better Health in Europe”.
Member States adopted the European Action Plan to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol 2012–2020 (EAPA) (resolution EUR/RC61/R4) in 2012. Since the adoption of the Plan 32 countries have changed or adopted a national alcohol policy or strategy.
However, there is a gap in the implementation of the most high-impact and cost-effective policies including the three alcohol policy “best buys”
- Raising the price of alcohol through excise and other duties.
- Restricting availability.
- Restricting or banning alcohol marketing.
As WHO reports, in the European Region alone, the products and practices of the alcohol industry cause almost 1 million deaths each year – about 2500 deaths every day.
Despite the heavy death toll of alcohol, countries are off-track to reach the 10% reduction in alcohol use.
WHO Europe’s report “Making the WHO European Region SAFER. Developments in alcohol control policies, 2010–2019” analyzed data gathered from 51 Member States. Out of these countries, 34 reported decreases in alcohol consumption levels, but only 16 countries are on track to reach the 10% reduction target for overall alcohol use. And 17 countries, actually reported increases in overall alcohol use.
Pricing policies such as raising excise taxes on alcohol are the least implemented policy in the European region, despite being one of the most effective policies.
Considering the gap in the implementation of the most effective alcohol policies in the European region, the Framework focuses on accelerating action in 6 focus areas to cover these gaps.
- Alcohol pricing,
- Alcohol availability,
- Alcohol marketing,
- Health information,
- Health service response, and
- Community action.
The Framework builds on WHO’s previous work including the WHO-led SAFER initiative, WHO’s engagement with several stakeholders, including non-state actors, and partnerships in other regions. The Framework recognizes the importance of a comprehensive and effective public health approach and drives forward key actions to improve implementation.