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Health News of Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Source: GNA

Excessive alcoholism kills 2.5 million people yearly - WHA

Accra, June 30, GNA - Every year 2.5 million people world-wide die as a result of alcohol intake, a resolution adopted recently at the 63rd World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland, has declared. It said out of the number, 320,000 are young people between the ages of 15 and 29 years.

These were contained in a statement issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Accra and copied to the Ghana News Agency (GNA). The statement quoted Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Assistant Director, as saying that alcohol was the eighth leading risk factor for deaths globally and that the harmful use of alcohol was responsible for almost 4 per cent of all deaths. Dr Alwan said WHO in close collaboration with Member States, provided a portfolio of policy options and interventions for implementation at national level with the goal to reduce the harmful use of alcohol worldwide. "Harmful drinking is also a major avoidable risk factor for non-communicable diseases, in particular cardiovascular diseases, cirrhosis of the liver and various cancers", he added.

Dr Alwan said the WHO was requested to support countries in implementing the strategy and monitor the progress at global, regional and national levels, adding that the resolution urged countries to complement and support national responses to public health problems caused by the harmful use of alcohol.

He noted that a successful implementation of the strategy would require concerted action by countries, effective global governance and appropriate engagement of all relevant stakeholders. "The resolution and strategy set priority areas for global action to provide guidance to countries and give a strong mandate to WHO to strengthen action at a level on reducing harmful use of alcohol", the WHO Assistant Director said. The resolution also recommended target areas for policy options including health services' responses, community action, pricing policies and reducing the public health impact of illicit alcohol and informally produced alcohol.