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Public hearing on ways of reducing harmful use of alcohol

Note for the media

Each year, more than two million people die from alcohol-related causes. WHO was asked by its Member States in May at the World Health Assembly to develop a global strategy to combat the harmful use of alcohol. All parties with an interest in reducing the harmful use of alcohol are now invited to share their views in a public hearing being organized by WHO. The one-month web-based hearing will run between 3 and 31 October.

"The harmful use of alcohol is a leading risk factor for premature death and disability in the world. Every year at least 2.3 million people die from alcohol-related causes," says Dr Ala Alwan, Assistant Director-General of WHO's Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health Cluster. "This web-based public hearing is broad and inclusive and will provide an opportunity for everyone, including the public, to present their views on effective strategies to reduce the burden resulting from the harmful use of alcohol."

Contributions will be posted on a WHO web site dedicated to the hearing. The submissions can form a part of the documentation to be considered and discussed at the round table meetings with economic operators from the alcohol industry (planned for 6 November 2008), and NGOs and health professionals (planned for 24-25 November 2008), as well as at regional technical consultations with Member States (planned to take place between January and April 2009).

"We encourage our Member States and other governmental institutions, as well as civil society groups, academic and research institutions, private companies, individuals and other interested parties to participate," says Dr Benedetto Saraceno, Director of WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. "We are particularly interested in getting views on integrated approaches that can protect at-risk populations, young people and those affected by harmful drinking by others."

Contributions can be submitted to the public hearing via the web site in any of the six official UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish) beginning 12:00 noon Geneva time on 3 October. Submissions should not exceed five A4 pages or 2000 words. Contributors are encouraged to provide a summary of their views, which should not exceed 500 words.

People without access to the Internet can send their submissions by fax to: +41 22 791 48 51.

For more information contact:

Dr Vladimir Poznyak
Coordinator, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
WHO Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 4307
E-mail: poznyakv@who.int

Dag Rekve
Technical Officer, Management of Substance Abuse
Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
WHO Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 1657
E-mail: rekved@who.int

Iqbal Nandra
Communications Officer
WHO Geneva
Telephone: +41 22 791 5589
E-mail: nandrai@who.int

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