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Alcohol policy alliance formed in East Africa

During the recent East Africa Conference on Alcohol a new alcohol policy alliance for the region was formed. Moses Waweru (in the middle of the picture) from Kenya is new chair.

Øystein Bakke

The third East African Conference on Alcohol with the title "Alcohol is a problem; ACT NOW" was held in Arusha, Tanzania 24-25 September. The conference, which was organized by IOGT-NTO International Institute and sponsored by Sida, brought together some 80 participants from the five countries of the East African Community. The objectives of the Conference were that the participants should be able to share their experiences and progress of developing evidence based alcohol policies of their respective countrie and to share experiences/skills on how best to curb harmful use of alcohol.

The topics focused on the formulation and implementation of alcohol policy, including the following issues: How should informal alcohol; packaging; women & children’s rights as well as rehabilitation and treatment be addressed in an alcohol policy. The conference presentations brought to the attention of the participants that within the EAC region only Kenya has formulated and implemented an alcohol policy and law. While more than 67% of alcohol in the region is produced in the informal sector, the alcohol industries use  not only persuasive but massive and aggressive marketing strategies to reach their customers. Death and injuries as a result of alcohol related road accidents are on the increase as alcohol is a growing problem in East Africa.

Recommendations: ACT NOW!
The conference passed the following recommendations:
  1. ACT NOW!
  2. The Alcohol industry should be kept out of alcohol policy making
  3. There is a need to conduct extensive research on alcohol in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania to inform policy formulation
  4. Decision-makers on the local and regional level need to be meaningfully involved in policy making
  5. Governments, NGOs, academics and media in East Africa need to do more in terms of educating the public on the consequences of alcohol abuse

Media coverage of the Arusha conference

WHO Regional Office for AfricaAllAfrica.com, and East African Business Week

Alcohol Policy Alliance established
During a side meeting the East African Alcohol Policy Alliance was launched based on the work of an interim committee. A constitution was passed and a new board (picture) was elected led by Moses Waweru from Kenya as the Chair person (centre). Justin Nkurunziza from Burundi was elected Vice Chair, Aimable Mwananawe from Rwanda as Secretary, Bertha Maegga from Tanzania as Treasurer and David Kalema from Uganda as Publication Secretary.




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