Oct 2 to be 'World No Alcohol Day'?
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28 May 2008
New Delhi, India
By Kounteya Sinha
World Health Assembly To Discuss India’s Proposal
Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary could soon be a dry day globally. India has officially proposed at the ongoing World Health Assembly in Geneva that October 2 be declared ‘World No Alcohol Day’.
The proposal, which has got support from all 11 South–East Asian countries, has been accepted by the assembly. Officials in the Indian delegation told TOI from Geneva that final discussions on the proposal’s approval would take place when the assembly’s executive body meets in January.
“It could take a year for the proposal to be granted official approval. We are confident that it will go through”, a health ministry official said. Union health minister A Ramadoss, who heads the Indian delegation attending the WHA, also proposed setting up of a Framework Convention on Alcohol Control similar to the one the World Health Organisation has for tobacco (FCTC). The proposal came on a day when all 193 WHO member countries signed a resolution to reduce alcohol related harm. WHO will now spend the next two years developing a global alcohol strategy.
Sources in the Indian delegation said: “Delegates approved a draft resolution calling upon WHO to produce a global strategy aimed at reducing harmful use of alcohol and present it to WHA in 2010. Alcohol is the fifth leading risk factor for death and disability in the world and many member states, including India, showed deep concern about the magnitude and complexity of alcohol related harm worldwide”. WHO said it was deeply concerned about the extent of public health problems associated with harmful use of alcohol, including injuries and violence.
Member states also drew attention to the links between alcohol and domestic violence, the risks to pregnant women and road safety. WHO estimates that alcohol is responsible for about 4% of deaths each year.
Officials said the blueprint of the alcohol strategy would cover guidance on the marketing, pricing and distribution of alcoholic drinks.
Ramadoss had earlier said that alcohol consumption posed a grave threat to India–the world’s ‘youngest’ nation with 600 million people less than 30 years of age.
He said that according to Article 47 of the Constitution, alcohol consumption has to be prohibited. “However, barring four states–J&K, Gujarat, Mizoram and Manipur–no other state has an anti–alcohol policy”, he had said recently.
India, where the average age of alcohol consumption has fallen by nearly nine years over the past decade, is also in the process of formulating and launching the country’s first national policy against alcohol.