Best-buys for alcohol harms reduction


Advocacy for policy change: Promote the World Health Organisation’s best-buys for alcohol harms reduction

Together with the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC); the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) and the Chronic Disease Initiative for Africa at the University of Cape Town (CDIA) and more than 164 individuals representing research facilities, academia; civil society, government and the private sector, DGMT is advocating for the implementation of five urgent and effective policy measures to curb the abuse of alcohol.

See the list of the signatories for our public appeal to government here.

We are doing this because:

The extent of alcohol abuse and its link with violent crime is without equal in Africa and should be a source of deep shame to all South Africans. Gender-based violence is driven by gender inequality, made worse by social and economic marginalisation, failures of policing and justice, and the abuse of drugs and alcohol*. It is now time to put the rights of women and children first – those who are, or will become victims of harmful use of alcohol, and there is global evidence of what needs to be done now. While social drinkers may feel that price increases and other restrictions are unfair on them, it is time to face up to what ‘unfair’ really means for women and children.

Read more here.

*Note that no single intervention will address the problem of gender-based violence, we must tackle all of these factors at the same time.

Five urgent and effective measures to curb the abuse of alcohol in South Africa:

The ‘best buy’ measures that the World Health Organisation has identified are highly cost-effective, feasible and implementable at low cost, they include:

  1. A ban on advertising of alcohol (except on the site of sale, where it should not be visible to those under 18 years).
  2. Increase the price of alcohol, both through excise taxes and by introducing a minimum price per unit of pure alcohol in liquor products.
  3. Reduce the legal limit for drinking and driving to a blood alcohol content of 0.02% or below.
  4. Reduce the availability of alcohol, especially in residential areas (by limiting the density of liquor outlets, shorter trading hours, and ending the sale of alcohol in larger containers like 1 litre bottles of beer).
  5. Intensify the availability of counselling and medically assisted treatment for persons struggling with dependence.

Progress so far:

The appeal was sent to various government departments, parliamentary portfolio committees and political parties. One such recipient was Ms Thandi Modise, Speaker of the National Assembly of South Africa. Subsequently, upon invite, presentations were made to the Department of Social Development Parliamentary Portfolio Committee and to a webinar convened by the Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disability in direct response to the public appeal.