Reducing the harmful use of alcohol is one of the cornerstones of preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The Political Declaration of the third United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting of the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases outlines the need for full, active and responsible engagement and participation of all relevant stakeholders to combat NCDs- including engaging the private sector, and civil society, for a whole of society approach.
‘Time to Deliver’, the 2018 Report of the WHO Independent High-Level Commission on Noncommunicable Diseases, explicitly outlines the positive impact of public private partnerships- especially in harnessing technological innovation and engaging with economic producers of alcohol for better global health and development outcomes.
This Wilton Park series aims to chart a positive and productive way forward to reduce the harmful use of alcohol and build a roadmap for a whole of society approach. By convening those from across public, private and civil society sectors to build trust and engagement, the series seeks to build consensus and common purpose on how alcohol producers can best support global efforts to improve health and reduce the harmful use of alcohol.
Beginning at Wiston House in Sussex in the UK, the series will then move to hold five regionally focused dialogues at locations around the world, seeking to explore new and innovative methods of reducing the harmful use of alcohol in a manner that accounts for national, religious and cultural context.
In 2017, WHO stated that the harmful use of alcohol is one of the four key risk factors underlying the ‘slow motion disaster’ of non-communicable diseases. Recent WHO statistics show that, across the globe, 3.3 million people die from alcohol related deaths each year accounting for 5.9% of all global deaths, with approximately 25% of total deaths in the 20 – 39 years age group being alcohol-attributable.
Reducing the harmful use of alcohol is a critical global public health objective, the significance of which is highlighted across global policy initiatives including the Political Declaration of the UN High-Level Meeting of the Prevention and Control of NCDs at the UN General Assembly, and the WHO global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. It is also inextricably linked to economic and social wellbeing, and development targets as recognised in the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 3.5 outlines the need to ‘Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol’. Current responses to reduce the harmful use of alcohol are often fragmented and do not always correspond to the magnitude of the identified impact on health and social development. While the scope and intensity of national efforts to address alcohol-related harm have increased, resources have not- particularly in low- and middle-income countries where alcohol consumption and related harm are likely to be rising most rapidly.
The Political Declaration of the third UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting of the Prevention and Control of NCDs highlights the need to mobilise the full, active and responsible engagement and participation of all relevant stakeholders to prevent and control NCDs. It also highlights the need for effective contribution from the private sector, including economic operators in alcohol production and trade, to contribute to reducing harmful use of alcohol in their core areas. The WHO Time to Deliver Report outlines the positive impact of public private partnerships, especially in harnessing the importance of technological innovations for better and more sustainable global health and development outcomes.
To achieve proactive and effective public/private partnerships that share a common goal, it is important to move towards a coherent and constructive plan to bring governments, international organisations, academia and civil society together with the private sector to develop lasting partnerships. Wilton Park is developing a network of partner organisations for the series, to include the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, academic institutions, public health bodies, and others.
This series will seek to enable contextual and sustainable solutions that reduce the harmful use of alcohol, improve health outcomes, and achieve the sustainable development goals.