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Despite the existence of cost effective interventions to reduce harmful use of alcohol, many countries are not giving it the attention it deserves

New article published

A call for the implementation of cost effective alcohol interventions

We have effective strategies to reduce harmful use of alcohol. Now they must be implemented, says a recent article in The BMJ written by Dag Rekve and colleagues. The article reviews the lack of, and barriers to, implementation of evidence-based cost effective interventions, especially in low and middle income countries. 

The article documents how the five most cost effective interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm are not implemented in proportion to the harms we see from alcohol world wide. These five are excise taxes on alcoholic beverages, comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertisingrestrictions on sales of alcohol, measures against drink driving and the provision of brief psychosocial interventions for people with hazardous or harmful alcohol use.

The article also presents the positive resultst that would be realised if the interventions were put fully into use. For example the article states that implementation only of the three first "best buys" would

"(...) result in a return on investment of $9 for every $1 invested. Over 50 years, a 20% global increase in alcohol taxes alone could avert nine million premature deaths."

The background of the article is the fight to prevent and control Non-communical Diseases (NCD) — mainly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and mental health conditions — recognising alcohol as a leading risk factor. NCDs are now the dominant cause of death and disabilities across the world. 

The WHO SAFER inititive promotes the five cost effective interventions, and is set up to help governments reduce the harmful use of alcohol and related health, social and economic consequences.