Successful GAPA Virtual Event held

The Global Alcohol Policy Alliance Virtual Event 2021 was held 12-14 October 2021. The event offered three interactive sessions each day in different time zones. Over the three days the 700 registered participants joined nine session with all together ten key-note speakers, followed by comments from a panel of regional representatives and discussion among participants. 37 panellists kicked of interesting and engaging discussions among participants. A report will follow from the event.

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GAPA Virtual Event 12-14 October 2021

Global Alcohol Policy Alliance Virtual Event announcement

The Global Alcohol Policy Alliance Virtual Event 2021 will be held 12-14 October 2021, in the same week that was originally planned for GAPC 2021. While GAPC has been postponed to 2023 the GAPA Virtual Event will offer interactive sessions in different time zones. Each day there will be a session with key-note speakers which will be followed by a regional session with comments from a panel of regional representatives and discussion among participants.

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GAPA appeal to President of South Africa

The Global Alcohol Policy Alliance has followed with interest the debate around issuing alcohol licences at petrol stations in South Africa and in a letter to Presiden Cyril Ramaphosa raised concern over the present development. “With the serious challenges related both to alcohol problems and road traffic deaths and injuries, allowing petrol stations to become additional alcohol outlets is the wrong signal to send.”

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Gender and Diversity Policy

Introduction
GAPA was established at the Global Alcohol Policy Conference in Syracuse, NY, USA, in 2000. Over the years, the board has been male dominated, but from 2015 it was chaired by a woman. Gender balance in GAPA governing bodies and its activities (Global Alcohol Policy Conferences, GAPA delegations etc.) has been a prime consideration. At GAPC 2020 in Dublin the list of plenary speakers and panellist showed an almost 50/50 division with a small majority of women.

From the outset the GAPA Objectives included a Low- and Middle-Income Countries perspective in that it expressed the ambition to:

  • Place priority on research and advocacy regarding those parts of the world where alcohol problems are increasing; and
  • Ensure that member groups in those areas have the technology and support capacity to participate in a global network for communication and action.

Further the GAPA By-Laws outline that

  • The Board of trustees shall consist of up to twenty members and shall be representative of all continents.

This Gender and Diversity Policy was passed by the GAPA Executive Board in March 2020 and includes what in many instances has been emerging practice over the years.

Gender equality and Diversity

Perspectives
GAPA recognises that gender is more than women and men, and that not everyone enjoys the same status, power or access to and control over resources. This situation is unacceptable. Principles of equity and social justice require us to ensure that everyone has equal opportunity for expressing and using their potential, irrespective of sex, gender identity and gender expression, age, race, colour, class, caste, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation or disability. Likewise, there are great differences in the resources available around the world influencing to what extent voices and perspectives from these parts of the world come forward in the global arena such as the one GAPA is involved in.

Women are less likely than men to drink around the world. Still within this pattern there are big variations, and in some parts of the world the gender gap in the prevalence of alcohol use and heavy episodic drinking has become small or non-existent. However, elsewhere persisting cultural values still contribute to a general pattern of drinking in which men consume more alcohol and cause more problems by doing so than women. Alcohol is a causal contributor to intimate partner violence with disagreements more likely to become violent and injury to be worse if alcohol is involved. For women and children living in poverty the alcohol use by the husband and father may represent addition problems related to taking unproportioned part of the household expenditures, result in lack of income or catastrophic health expenditures.

Rationale
GAPA recognises that by not equally involving every person or excluding certain groups in its work, talents will be underutilised, and important perspectives will be lost. GAPA’s work in the Global Health arena will be strengthened by bringing in voices from different backgrounds; women and men; different parts of the world; different age and professions; different cultures and religions; minority groups etc. GAPA fully commits to channelling energy, effort and resources into processes that create an organisation that values all people equally and take this commitment also into the values for the society that GAPA is promoting through its advocacy.

GAPA engagement during WHO process to accelerate action to reduce the harmful use of alcohol 2020 – 2022

Updated 11.12.2020

Following a decision at the World Health Organisation 146th Executive Board WHO started a two-year process to “accelerate action to reduce the harmful use of alcohol” . This includes a consultation towards an action plan 2022-2030 for the global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol; development of a technical report on the harmful use of alcohol related to cross-border alcohol marketing; a call for more resources to be made available; and a review of the Global strategy in 2030. And updated timeline for the process is available on the WHO website here.

Civil society has an important role to play in contributing to consultations and communicating with decision makers about what such an accelerated action will entail. GAPA and its global network will participate actively in the two-year process and beyond. For the overall process GAPA issued the “GAPA Principles for Advocacy 2020 – 2022” (pdf, 20 June 2020).

In November 2020, WHO issued a ‘Working document for development of an action plan to strengthen implementation of the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol’ and started an online consultation until 13 December (extended deadline). For this consultation GAPA and Vital Strategies have issued a joint statement underlining three key points to strengthen the draft Plan. GAPA has also issued some key advocacy points for the consultation and made the following submission.

Related documents

Joint statement from GAPA and Vital Strategies regarding WHO consultation on the development of an action plan to strengthen implementation of the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol.

On 16 November WHO released a Working document for development of an action plan to strengthen implementation of the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol. The document is open for consultation until 6 December. Without a clear Action Plan, the Global Strategy will remain unrealized and the health and economic harms of alcohol consumption will remain high and continue to be an obstacle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The following are three key points to strengthen the draft Plan, agreed by Global Alcohol Policy Alliance and Vital Strategies and offered for consideration for your own submissions.

Role of economic operators:

In the current document the “economic operators” – i.e., alcohol industry entities (producers, distributors, retailers, etc) – are listed as stakeholders in equal standing alongside civil society and other UN organisations. This is inappropriate, given their inherent conflict of interest and long record of influence undermining effective alcohol policies, including in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). The alcohol industry should, instead, be addressed in a separate section with due regard to conflict of interest toward safeguarding public health.

More regular reporting on implementation:

We are concerned about the lack of specific time intervals for review and reporting of the implementation of the Action Plan. Given the importance of intergovernmental collaboration to reduce alcohol harm, we recommend that the Director-General be requested to report to the World Health Assembly biennially on the progress of implementing the Global Action Plan. This should include any challenges faced by Member States and the nature and extent of collaboration between UN agencies.

Prior to the review of the SDGs and Action Plan in 2030, a progress report and recommendations for the way forward for reducing alcohol harm through alcohol policy should be submitted to the WHO governing bodies by 2028 at the latest to ensure there is no further delay to proportionately addressing any persistent barriers to progress identified through the course of the Action Plan.

Focus on best buys/SAFER

The numerous and sometimes overlapping recommendations in the draft document tend to obscure a focus on the most cost-effective policies to reduce alcohol-related harms. The Action Plan should be strongly framed around every country implementing the 5 most effective, science-based interventions, as articulated in the SAFER guidance: Strengthening restrictions on alcohol availability; Advancing and enforcing drink driving counter measures; Facilitating access to screening, brief interventions, and treatment; Enforcing bans or comprehensive restrictions on alcohol advertising sponsorship, and promotion; and raising prices on alcohol through excise taxes and pricing policies. The monitoring indicators should include specific metrics of SAFER implementation, and countries’ reporting of the implementation of SAFER policies should be facilitated, especially in LMICs, which currently lack adequate resources and are subject to interference from commercial interests.