WHO position as outlined in the strategy
Data from monitoring and surveillance create the basis for the success and appropriate delivery of the other nine policy options. Local, national, and international monitoring and surveillance are needed to monitor the magnitude and trends of alcohol-related harms, strengthen advocacy, formulate policies, and assess impact of interventions. Monitoring should also capture the profile of people accessing services and the reason why people most affected are not accessing prevention and treatment resources. Data may be available in other sectors and good systems for coordination, information exchange, and collaboration are necessary to collect the potentially broad range of information needed to have comprehensive monitoring and surveillance.
Development of sustainable national information systems using indicators, definitions, and data-collection procedures compatible with WHO’s global and regional information systems provides an important basis for effective evaluation of national efforts to reduce harmful use of alcohol and monitoring trends at subregional, regional, and global levels. Systematic continual collection, collation, and analysis of data, timely dissemination of information, and feedback to policy-makers and other stakeholders should be integral parts of the implementation of any policy and intervention to reduce harmful use of alcohol. Collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information on harmful use of alcohol are resource-intensive activities.
Policy options outlined in the strategy
(a) Establishing effective frameworks for monitoring and surveillance activities, including periodic national surveys on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm and a plan for exchange and dissemination of information
(b) Establishing or designating an institution or other organizational entity responsible for collecting, collating, analyzing, and disseminating available data, including publishing national reports
(c) Defining and tracking a common set of indicators of harmful drinking and policy responses and interventions to prevent and reduce such use
(d) Creating a repository of data at the country level based on internationally agreed indicators and reporting data in the agreed format to WHO and other relevant international organizations
(e) Developing evaluation mechanisms with the collected data in order to determine the impact of policy measures, interventions, and programs put in place to reduce the harmful use of alcohol
Brief comments from an industry perspective
Reliable data on alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm are essential for the development of balanced alcohol policies. Benchmarks are needed if progress on reducing harm is to be tracked over time. Defining and tracking a common set of indicators of harmful use of alcohol is therefore of fundamental importance, taking into account different cultural contexts. Evaluation of the impact of policy measures, interventions and programs is also essential. Data sharing between industry and WHO and the public health community, via ICAP, has now begun, but there is potential for more to be done in this area over the lifetime of the strategy.
How can industry members support the above policy options?
Industry provision of production and consumption data to WHO, national governments, and the public health community was one of the main recommendations in Working Together to Reduce Harmful Drinking
(ICAP Book, 2010)
- Supporting research on levels and patterns of consumption, including noncommercial alcohol
- Including questions relating to social issues and perceptions of alcohol-related problems in industry-commissioned market research
What ICAP tools are available to support this work?
What other tools are available?