Management of substance abuse

Alcohol epidemiology, monitoring, and information system

Earth from space- GLOBE

Given the significance of alcohol consumption to health, the World Health Organization (WHO) has prioritized continuous monitoring and providing technical support and guidance to control health problems attributable to alcohol over the last years. An important task for WHO is to stimulate data collection on the epidemiology of alcohol use and to fill major gaps in knowledge, particularly with respect to developing countries. It seeks to assess and monitor the health situation and trends as related to alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm, and policy responses in countries and to provide technical assistance to Member States to collect their own data and monitor trends. The following support these purposes:

  • Global Information System on Alcohol and Health
  • Global Survey on Alcohol and Health
  • Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health
  • International guide for monitoring alcohol consumption and related harm

Global Information System on Alcohol and Health (GISAH)

The Global Information System on Alcohol and Health (GISAH) is a further development of the WHO Global Alcohol Database that has been building since 1997. GISAH provides easy and rapid access to a wide range of alcohol-related health indicators. It is an essential tool for assessing and monitoring the health situation and trends as related to alcohol consumption, alcohol-related harm, and policy responses in countries.


Global Survey on Alcohol and Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been collecting data on alcohol consumption and existing alcohol control policies from its Member States since 1996. The current survey instrument entitled "Global Survey on Alcohol and Health" includes three sections, namely alcohol policy, alcohol consumption, and national monitoring and surveillance systems. The information provided by the Member States is essential for the preparation of the Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health as well as for regional publications. Moreover, in addition to collecting comparable information at the global level, the survey is instrumental in developing the regional and global information systems on alcohol and health, as requested by the World Health Assembly Resolution on Public health problems caused by harmful use of alcohol.


Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health

Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health 2011
Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004

The Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004 is the second global status report on alcohol published by WHO. The first report was published in 1999. This report provides an update on the global picture of the status of alcohol as a factor in world health and seeks to document what is known about alcohol consumption and drinking patterns among various population groups. The first section presents an overview and comparative analyses of the alcohol situation on a regional and global basis using indicators such as alcohol consumption and use, prevalence rates and drinking patterns. Also, health and social consequences of alcohol use are discussed. The second section consists of a CD-ROM which presents individual country profiles for all Member States for which sufficient data were available. The profiles bring together information on the following indicators: trends in adult per capita consumption, prevalence/drinking patterns data, information on traditional and/or locally brewed alcoholic beverages, unrecorded alcohol consumption, health and social problems, including morbidity and mortality from alcohol-related causes, and the social and economic costs of alcohol abuse.

Global Status Report on Alcohol 1999

The first Global Status Report on Alcohol was published in 1999. The report seeks to document what is known about alcohol’s impact on health worldwide, what is being done by national governments to ameliorate that harm, and what is needed on a global basis to prevent and reduce alcohol-related injury and disease. Part I of the report presents comparative analyses of the alcohol situation on a regional and global basis, including comparisons of individual countries using indicators such as alcohol use, mortality trends, production and trade, as well as a summary of existing control policies. Part II presents individual country profiles for 173 WHO Member States, bringing together information on each of these indicators with a description of alcohol control measures for each country for which data were available.

Global Status Report: Alcohol Policy

In 2004, WHO published the Global Status Report: Alcohol Policy. This report is part of the continuous work coming out of the WHO Global Alcohol Database, and is a first attempt by WHO to provide a comprehensive overview highlighting the current state of alcohol policies worldwide and aims to provide an objective first baseline on which to monitor and build relevant alcohol policies globally. The report is based on a review of existing policies in 118 countries.

Global Status Report: Alcohol and Young People

The Global Status Report on Alcohol and Young People was published in 2001. The report reviews available research and statistics on behavioural and physical consequences of alcohol use on youth, and describes the globalisation of alcohol brands and marketing designed to embed alcohol products and consumption into the lifestyles of young people. The report also includes brief profiles of prevalence of alcohol consumption among young people in Member States in each of the WHO Regions.


International guide for monitoring alcohol consumption and related harm

Estimates of per capita alcohol consumption, where they exist, have heretofore generally come from alcohol industry sources rather than health authorities, who often do not have the resources to monitor alcohol use. Although studies of drinking patterns and behaviour have been conducted in some countries, the lack of a global consensus on survey questions, time frames and definitions of terms such as heavy drinking renders the data inconsistent, difficult to interpret, and not comparable cross-nationally. To provide guidance to WHO Member States on epidemiological monitoring of alcohol consumption and related harm WHO has published the international guide for monitoring alcohol consumption and harm that in the longer term aims to improve the quality and comparability of alcohol-related data. The purpose of the Guide is to provide guidance to WHO Member States on epidemiological monitoring in order to inform and facilitate effective policy formation and to improve the global and regional comparability of data on alcohol use and health consequences in order to improve monitoring and to facilitate research and risk assessment. It is intended to provide general principles and practical guidance on the development of realistic and effective sets of indicators of alcohol consumption and harm for different countries with different levels of resources.

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