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SADC and alcohol policy: an opportunity for advocacy

From SAAPA Circular 2 - September 2013

SADCProtocol on Health

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has great potential to aid our regional efforts to improve and change alcohol policies. SADC was formally established in 1992 following the transformation from its predecessorthe SADCC. SADC’s protocol on health acknowledges that the health of a population contributes to the development of the nation. The protocol contains varies steps to achieve health in the region under different articles pertaining to different aspects of health.

Statements about substance abuse

This protocol on health denotes  various responsibilities of governments in the SADC community to their citizens, captured more specifically by article 8 with regards to health promotion and education. Article 8 in particular makes reference to Health Promotion and Education, which holds governments accountable to formulate and promote policies with respect to healthy lifestyles and the reduction of substance abuse. A mention before, SADC main focus is economic development but the protocol gives attention to the communities identified health priorities.
According to the treaty, these priorities shouldbe achieved through obligatory and collaborative efforts of the regions governments.

SADC and alcohol policies

No explicit procedures are in the SADC protocol with regards to alcohol policy, save for the broad mention in article 8.Up to now SADCS’s attention has been focused on controlling regions HIV and AIDS epidemic, TB and Malaria through increased intergovernmental collaboration to deal with the societal effects through SADC’s HIV and AIDS Strategic Framework. The reduction of the incidence of new HIV infection, the review, development and harmonisation of policies and legislation relation to HIV prevention as well as a multi-sectoral response are some of the objectives of this framework. However many studies have shown that alcohol is a prominent contributing factor that drives that HIV epidemic which is why we believe that SADC should focus now.

A call to action: SAAPA opportunity for advocacy

SAAPA views SADC’s HIV and AIDS strategic framework and health protocol as an opportunity to get the alcohol policies on the agenda on this platform tohave a significant impact on the region’s alcohol consumption. Our efforts would be valid as alcohol misuse has been shown to contribute to the incidence of HIV.Advocacy at this level would provide lobbying to our regional governments on bigger platform. The recent interests and investments in curbing alcohol related-harm (in Botswana & in SA) provide examples and good practice that we can share and learn from regionally.

The SADC Ministers of Health meet annual to discuss health issues and priorities. We have contact of our Department of Health to enquire when the next meet is happening to assess how we can get involved. We suggest you do the same in your countries in preparation for our next move.

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