3rd Awareness Week on Alcohol Related HarmNovember 17, 2015
The 2015 Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm aims to galvanize EU and national policy makers into action to address alcohol related harm in Europe. The European region is by far the highest drinking region in the world, with social costs attributed to alcohol amounting to more than €155 billion annually, a majority of which lie outside the healthcare system.
At a meeting held in the context of the 3rd Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm, and hosted by MEP Jytte Guteland the call to action was clear: alcohol is a “big thing” and investment is needed now to ensure future savings.
“The burden on society of alcohol related harm continues to grow at an alarming rate. It is clear that something needs to be done. Parliament is calling for action, the Member States are calling for action: the Commission must act” says Ms Jytte Guteland MEP hosting the first event of the 2015 Awareness Week on Alcohol Related Harm (AWARH) at European Parliament in Brussels.
Ms Guteland emphasized in her opening comments that “all stakeholders have an important role to play and the European Commission in particular should be taking a leadership role”. With clear evidence linking alcohol to more than 60 diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and hypertension, liver and digestive diseases, and alcohol use disorders and brain diseases such as alcohol dependence and depression2″ Ms Guteland noted “the costs of inaction can only continue to rise and Europe cannot afford that”.
The Awareness Week on Alcohol-Related Harm (AWARH) aims to raise awareness on the negative effects of alcohol and call for greater policy action to address the problems it can cause, through improvements in:
Prevention • Education • Screening • Treatment and adequate services
The ultimate aim is to highlight the need to tackle the significant barriers to a comprehensive and cost-effective policy intervention.
“In Europe chronic alcohol consumption is the main cause of cirrhosis, worldwide up to 50% of liver cirrhosis is due to alcohol. There is a correlation between cirrhosis and per capita alcohol consumption. We hope that all the stakeholders will work towards policies that will address this important public health issue” added Prof Patrizia Burra, Head of Liver Transplant Services at the University Hospital of Padova, EU Policy Councillor of the European Association for the Study of the Liver.
“Sadly, the European Commission’s approach to alcohol policy seems to be representative of the Juncker’s Commission attitude towards health policy – big on big things and small on small things” 3. Unfortunately, in the eyes of President Juncker a cost of €155 billion annually not to mention the health of European citizens is not a “big” enough issue” said Mariann Skar, Secretary General of European Alcohol Policy Alliance.