The Ministry of Health and Population, the World Health Organization, and global and civil society partner organizations, including Movendi International, announced an ambitious roadmap to advance high-impact alcohol policy solutions to protect more people from alcohol harm.

People in Nepal hold strong beliefs about community values. For the people of Nepal, relationships are important as means to achieve shared goals and identity. They value responsibility towards others in the community.

Thanks to these values the people of Nepal assign the highest priority to health and well-being of their families, communities, and society at large. According to the World Health Organization, 72.9% of Nepalese people (61.6% male, 82.9% female) live alcohol-free.

That’s why it matters that families and communities are protected from alcohol harms.

But in Nepal, the products and practices of the alcohol industry are increasingly putting children, youth, and entire communities into alcohol harm’s way. Violence, road traffic deaths, mental ill-health, liver disease – every Nepali knows someone who has been harmed by alcohol.

In Nepal, between 2013 to 2018 the number of people consuming alcohol in the past month grew by 20%. Of those who Nepali who consume alcohol, more than a third engage in heavy alcohol use.  And one in six current or former alcohol users drove under the influence of alcohol in the last 30 days.

  • Alcohol deaths increased by 376% between 1990 and 2016 in Nepal,
  • According to WHO in 2016 alcohol caused,
    • 1229 deaths due to liver cirrhosis,
    • 897 deaths due to road traffic injuries, and
    • 295 deaths due to cancer.
Rising alcohol deaths
Alcohol deaths in Nepal increased by 376% between 1990 and 2016.

These figures are only deaths directly linked to alcohol. The number of people killed due to alcohol is likely much higher, when other harms are considered, including alcohol violence.

That’s why people call for better alcohol laws in Nepal.

Safeguarding Nepal’s health and safety during a period of rapid development requires that we face and prevent alcohol-related harms,” said Dr Dipendra Raman Singh, Director General, Department of Health Services.

Achieving this will require clear and effective policies, assertive leadership, and strong multi-sectoral partnerships.”

Dr Dipendra Raman Singh, Director General, Department of Health Services

The SAFER Nepal Roadmap

The SAFER Nepal roadmap charts the way forward for the government to implement the SAFER alcohol policy blue print. The SAFER alcohol policy package consists of high impact and proven interventions to prevent and reduce alcohol harm in Nepal. These interventions include reducing alcohol availability, preventing driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), increasing access to alcohol treatment and brief interventions for people with alcohol use problems, banning alcohol advertising and sponsorship, and raising alcohol excise taxes to promote health and prevent harm.

Key steps forward for Nepal include implementing and enforcing Nepal’s ban on alcohol advertising, effective limitation of alcohol selling hours, spreading successful DUI prevention practices throughout the country, and raising the profile of the public health benefits of alcohol taxation in existing annual reviews of how much alcohol should be taxed.

The Ministry of Health and Population invited a joint national and international expert advisory group, including Movendi International and the Nepali member organization CWIN. This so called SAFER Nepal Mission solicited key information and critical input from multiple ministries and other stakeholders, including civil society and academia, to develop a roadmap tailored for Nepal’s specific cultural and religious setting.

The roadmap lays out objectives and actions for the next two years, during which Movendi International together with WHO and other partners will support progress towards SAFER implementation.

WHO and its UN partners commit to mobilizing and collaborating with the government of Nepal to implement this exciting initiative,” said Dr. Rajesh Sambhajirao Pandav, the World Health Organization’s Representative to Nepal.

Dr. Rajesh Sambhajirao Pandav, the World Health Organization’s Representative to Nepal

For the SAFER initiative, the government of Nepal has partnered with WHO, the UN Development Programme, and the UN Interagency Task Force on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), as well as four global civil society organizations: Movendi International, the NCD Alliance, the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance, and Vital Strategies.

This package is a powerful catalyst for ensuring health and development for all” said Sumnima Tuladhar, executive director of Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Center (CWIN-Nepal), a Movendi International member organization.

Civil society is a crucial engine driving multi-sectoral partnerships to unlock the benefits of the SAFER alcohol policy package, for health, women and children’s rights, poverty eradication, and economic prosperity.”

Sumnima Tuladhar, executive director, Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Center (CWIN-Nepal)

The specific components of the SAFER package are:

  • Strengthen restrictions on alcohol availability;
  • Advance and enforce drink-driving countermeasures;
  • Facilitate access for screening, brief intervention, and treatment;
  • Enforce bans or comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertising, sponsorship, and promotion;
  • Raise prices on alcohol through excise taxes and pricing policies.

Movendi International support for SAFER Nepal

Nepal is one of only two countries so far that are collaborating with the SAFER Initiative to improve health and development through high-impact alcohol policy solutions.

Movendi International and local member organizations are also supporting SAFER Uganda.

In Nepal, Movendi International and WHO in Nepal have agreed to partner for building capacity among decision-makers to address alcohol harm with proven, high-impact policy solutions. Another area of collaboration is to provide technical guidance on conflict of interest safeguards and to protect alcohol policy development from alcohol industry interference.

Movendi International will also increase its support for civil society in Nepal to be key partners in SAFER Nepal, for example through capacity building for advocacy and alcohol industry counter-action, but also effective awareness campaigns to increase public recognition of the real harm caused by alcohol.

Movendi International is also committed to help ensure full implementation of the ambitious SAFER Nepal Roadmap, beyond the concrete and initial areas of partnership in the country outlined above.

Movendi International President Kristina Sperkova commented on the commitment to help improve health and development in Nepal through alcohol policy:

Together with our members, we are working to make alcohol policy the priority it should be. Alcohol is a serious obstacle to sustainable development. And alcohol policy hold big potnetial to catalyze development for all.

In communities and societies around the world, we see an urgent need to accelerate action on alcohol harm. Investing in the alcohol policy best buys as packaged in SAFER is scientifically sound and economically smart, generating considerable returns on investment.

We are pleased to partner with the Ministry of Health and Population, WHO, UNDP, and others to ensure more people and communities in Nepal are protected from alcohol harm.”

Kristina Sperkova, International President, Movendi International

Other highlight areas of SAFER Nepal

Media reporting in Nepal has picked up other highlights of the SAFER Nepal Roadmap that was outlined in a joint press conference between the Ministry of Health and Population, WHO, and the SAFER Nepal partnership.

The roadmap includes, for example, actions to increase the tax and price of alcoholic products in Nepal to better promote health and prevent alcohol harms. Part of this work is to ensure the development of an investment case, showing the return on investment from alcohol policy in general and alcohol taxation in particular.

The media also reported that the SAFER Nepal roadmap states that harm caused by alcohol can be prevented by reducing the availability of alcohol, stopping driving under the influence of alcohol, increasing access to alcohol-related treatment and brief interventions, banning advertising and sponsorship of alcoholic products, and raising public health centered alcohol excise taxes.

The SAFER Nepal roadmap lays out objectives and programs for the next two years.

In the press conference, Director General of the Health Services Department, Dr. Dipendra Raman Singh said that clear and effective policies, strong leadership and strong multi-sectoral partnerships are necessary to reduce the harm caused by alcohol.

The government in Nepal plans to reduce per capita alcohol consumption by at least 10% by 2025 – as part of its commitment to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

The SAFER Nepal partnership organized a capacity building seminar and policy dialogue during the week of study visits and meetings, by inviting the concerned stakeholders.

In addition to the officials of the Ministry of Health, health chiefs of municipalities, health office chiefs, police, doctors, professors, civil society, consumer forums, non-governmental organizations and media representatives participated in the program. The program was facilitated by a group of international experts, including Movendi International, invited by the Ministry of Health and Population.

Speaking in the program, Director General of Health Services Department, Dr. Dipendraraman Singh said that the best practice interventions combined in SAFER should be seriously considered.

We all know that alcohol increases the risk of non-communicable diseases. We should all work together to reduce it. Necessary policies should be made for that,” he said, according to media reporting.

Dr. Dipendraraman Singh, Director General of Health Services Department

Source Website: World Health Organization