Monrovia — Liberia Alcohol Policy Alliance (LAPA) is calling on the general public to stop the abuse of alcohol.
The organization made the called Saturday, January 10, during its launching program held at the YMCA Headquarters on Crown Hill, Broad Street. They used the launch to also join the West Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (WAAP).
Mr. Abdul A. Sheriff, a member of LAPA's Board of Director, said the establishment of WAAPA was conceived at the Botswana meeting in February 2016 where some members of the board of directors and some representatives from International Organizations including the WAAPA Head of Secretariat, Mr. Issah Ali, agreed to set up an affiliate in West Africa, like the South Africa Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) and East Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (EAAPA), to tackle alcohol-related problems in West Africa. WAAPA presently constitutes a seven-member countries - Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea Bissau.
Sheriff: "LAPA is a coalition of civil society organizations set up to advocate for the development, implementation, and evaluation of scientific-based alcohol policies and programmed in Liberia. Her objective is the development of a network in Liberia for the dissemination of information on alcohol policies, and promotion of policies and regulatory frameworks on alcohol and alcohol-related issues."
He emphasized that the idea behind the establishment of LAPA stemmed from the establishment and existence of WAAPA.
"We are aware of the dangers in unregulated alcohol consumption and the resultant harm occasioned by heavy erratic drinking. The dangers have been minimalized by the absence of data and records on alcohol abuse. Big and aggressive marketing strategy of the alcohol industry and their unending attempt to play down the effects of harmful alcohol consumption, as well as lack of adequate a national alcohol policy action plan in Liberia."
Sheriff explained that the lack of efforts towards the formulation and implementation of policies to address the rising trend of harmful alcohol consumption in Liberia is counter-productive.
LAPA along with WAAPA, the Liberian Government and other international bodies is committed to relentlessly tackling alcoholism and alcohol policy development in Liberia.
"We are all aware of the negative effect alcohol consumption has on individuals, families, communities and the nation-at-large. According to WHO, 5.1% of the global burden of disease and injury is attributable to alcohol, as measured in disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). Alcohol consumption causes death and disability relatively early in life. In the age group 20 to 39 years approximately 13.5% of the total deaths are alcohol-attributable (WHO, 2018)," he stressed.
He added that there is a close relationship between harmful use of alcohol and mental health illnesses including behavior problems.
Sheriff acknowledged that in addition to health consequences, harmful use of alcohol has economic consequences such as lost productivity, significant losses to individual, and the larger society.
Barton Ewah, who spoke on behalf of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), assured officials of LAPA of his institution's fullest support to the Ministry of Health as they join hands with LAPA in the fight against alcohol abuse.
He pointed out that many homes are today out of order due to the excessive use of alcoholic drinks by one of the parents of those homes and that excessive use of alcoholic drinks is creating serious setbacks for their children's future.
For her part, Mrs. Angie Tarr, head, Mental Health Division, Ministry of Health, emphasized that alcohol-related issues in Liberia are not something in hiding.
"I think we all know that alcohol has a medical effect on an individual and also family members as well as the general public," Mrs. Tarr said.