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In late April 2006 WHO met with NGOs to discuss the follow up of the WHA resolution on Alcohol and Public Health. Some 20 organizations were represented in Geneva for two days discussing how WHO and NGO activities could mutually strengthen the work to reduce public health problems caused by harmful use of alcohol. The meeting concluded that a broad NGO network should be set up.

A meeting between WHO secretariat and representatives from 20 nongovernmental organizations and professional associations from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America took place in Geneva 24 and 25 April 2006. The meeting was a direct follow up of the World Health Assembly resolution 58.26: Public health problems caused by harmful use of alcohol. In the resolution, the Director-General of WHO was, among other things, requested to collaborate with health professionals, nongovernmental organizations and other relevant stakeholders to promote the implementation of effective policies and programmes to reduce harmful alcohol consumption.
The meeting provided an opportunity for dialogue, debate, information sharing and identification of good practice models. It addressed such issues as: the contribution from civil society organizations towards implementation of the resolution; the expectations NGOs had of the WHO; the most important areas for collaboration between WHO and civil society organizations. In addition the NGO representatives were briefed on current WHO activities in relation to the resolution.
In the concluding session it was agreed to set up a network which should encompass a broad spectrum of NGOs and professional associations working directly with alcohol related problems or in associated areas. The meeting agreed upon the following mission for such a network: 
  • information sharing among NGOs and professional associations from different regions of the world embracing the various approaches to working in this field;
  • building awareness of the need for global initiatives to reduce alcohol related harm; and intensifying collaboration with WHO
Later termed the World NGO Network on Alcohol and Public Health it was agreed that it should be an open, transparent and inclusive network of NGOs and professional associations independent of commercial interest. To secure this last point, no organization set up by the alcohol industry or associated business or largely funded by them can participate in the network.
Acting on the decisions of the meeting the interim secretariat is to be with the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA). A priority put forward by the meeting was for the network to establish an information service in the form of a listserver open to the members of the network.

© 2006 World NGO Network on Alcohol and Public Health