Malawi: Alliance Calls for Collaborative Efforts in Implementation of Alcohol Policy

20 March 2018

The Malawi Alcohol Policy Alliance (MAPA) says government and various institutions must collaborate with the alliance in an aggressive effort towards the successful implementation of the National Alcohol Policy (NAP).

The consultative development of NAP began in 2007 by Drug Fight Malawi (DFM) which is the hub of MAPA, a consortium of local organizations advocating for the policy and its implementation.

Cabinet approved the alcohol policy on 26 January, 2017 and Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi launched it on 18 August same year at Kamenyagwaza in Dedza.

The policy, among other important things, seeks to increase awareness of the effects of alcohol and curb harmful consumption of alcohol including underage drinking.

Speaking during a MAPA Central Region meeting in Lilongwe, the alliance's National Coordinator who is also Drug Fight Malawi executive director, Nelson Zakeyu, said MAPA must work even harder, now that the policy is in place.

"At least five member organisations from each district in central region have attended this meeting, signifying commitment as we embark on a duty towards the smooth implementation of a policy we fought hard for," he said.

Zakeyu acknowledged the increasing abuse of alcohol in the country, especially among the underage and the youths, saying that is the alliance's greatest concern.

"You don't expect to have a healthy and productive nation in future if the current crop of children are drinking as if they are already adults."

The World Health Organisation's (WHO) Global Report of 2014 says the hazardous and harmful use of alcohol is a major global contributing factor to death, disease, injury, gender based violence, poverty and many other societal ills.

"In fact, studies have shown that people with less income drink alcohol excessively than those with stable income, leading to increased poverty levels in their households," Kulimbamtima Portia Chiotcha, a Project Officer at Drug Fight Malawi and MAPA concurs with the WHO report.

According to Chiotcha, MAPA will go about sensitizing the public about the National Alcohol Policy with the intention of reducing some of those problems.

The policy lists eight key priority areas in the fight against alcohol abuse.

These include capacity building of law enforcing agencies, training formal and informal institutions on the effects of alcohol abuse, establishing, reviewing and enforcing of regulations over production, distribution, marketing and selling of alcohol products.

"If the government which is the owner of the policy and other institutions move in quickly to implement these clear guiding principles, we can look forward to a successful fight against alcohol abuse," said Zakeyu.

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