Thursday, March 28, 2013

Alcohol A Major Obstacle To Economic And Societal Development In Africa – But Will East African Community Respond Properly?

4th EAC Health and Scientific Conference for 27-29 March 2013 in Kigali.

The main theme of the three-day Conference is: Regional Health Priorities and Opportuni- ties: Evidence for Action in the Changing Global Financial Situation.
”We and our members from all over the EAC think it is great that this conference takes place and that it is already the fourth time it is being held,” says Moses Waweru, Chair- man of the East African Alcohol Policy Alliance (EAAPA).”We need to come together and discuss obstacles to our development, and we need more research and evidence.”

”But we also need to make sure that these types of conferences manage to address a comprehensive approach to regional health priorities,” says Aimable Mwananawe, Chair- person of RADAPA. ”In that sense I hope that this conference is not a missed opportunity to address alcohol harm and its impact in the EAC.”

The Conference has four sub-themes: Achieving the MDGs for Maternal and Child Health; Non-Communicable Diseases and Trauma; Health Systems Strengthening and Quality of Health Care. Five symposiums are also planned, covering subjects of: HIV/ AIDS, sexual and gender based violence, disaster preparedness and tobacco control.

”We agree that sub-themes as well as symposiums are highly relevant. However, we also feel that something might be missing,” says Ms. Kristina Sperkova, Vice President of IOGT International. ”Just last week the WHO Africa Stakeholders Dialogue on NCDs clearly sho- wed that alcohol definitely had the biggest attention in the discussions.”

“In the dire state of the global financial situation, alcohol policies are best buys to im- prove health and propel societal and economic development because they are cost- effective and have positive impact on many different issues that challenge the EAC today,”says Moses Waweru of EAAPA. ”Knowing all this, EAAPA invites EAC and govern- ments of the Member States to work together on alcohol issues. Together we can find high-impact and cost-effective responses to the alcohol harm in our region.”

East African Alcohol Policy Alliance, RADAPA and IOGT International

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