Civil Society Champions Sobriety, Seeks Public Support Against Alcohol Harm

civil society

Civil Society Champions Sobriety, Seeks Public Support Against Alcohol Harm

In a notable development, various civil society groups, including Vision for Alternative Development Ghana and Ghana NCD Alliance, have joined forces to address the adverse impacts of alcohol advertisements.

Recognizing the potential harm to children and young individuals, these organizations are taking the lead in initiatives aimed at reshaping societal norms and advocating for healthier influences on the younger generation.

The civil society fraternity in Ghana, stands in solidarity with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), in its ongoing suit involving the artiste manager who petitioned the Supreme Court to render unconstitutional, FDA guideline that frowns on the participation of well-known personalities in alcohol advertising.

Since the introduction of the child protection provision under the FDA guidelines, some celebrities and some entertainment show hosts have attacked it. This is not the first time the law has caused a stir in the entertainment industry.

Earlier last year, “Sugarcane” hitmaker, Camidoh also campaigned for his colleagues in the industry to unite against the guidelines.

However, some celebrities and entertainment commentary personalities support efforts towards improving the quality of lives of young people and children which is commendable.

Ghana ratified the UN Convention on Children’s Rights in coherence with the Children’s Act under section 5 of the 1992 Constitution to ensure that children are protected from all forms of harmful activities which include alcohol exposure coupled with care, assistance, maintenance, and assurance that supports their development and wellbeing.

The Alcohol guidelines and the National Alcohol Policy marketing form part of government efforts to ensure that children are protected from alcohol glamorization and early initiation of alcohol use.

As children are highly impressionable, they tend to emulate the lifestyles of personalities they look up to and as role models. Celebrities should not only think about financial gains but instead, take into consideration the health implications on minors and young people who idolize them.

The societal normalization of alcohol consumption exacerbates the public health problem, with pervasive advertising and celebrity endorsements contributing to a culture where drinking is often portrayed as the order of the day.

Cristiano Ronaldo, a renowned footballer, refrained from alcohol use after the tragic death of his father, Dinis Aveiro, as a result of alcoholism.

Likewise, Paul Pogba, the France midfielder removed a bottle of Heineken beer that was placed in front of him at the European Conference 2020 and also Asamoah Gyan, the former captain of Black Stars in an interview admitted he does not take in alcohol. These celebrities exemplified strong moral character worthy of emulation by the youth.

According to WHO, the harmful use of alcohol is accountable for 7.1% and 2.2% of the global burden of disease for males and females respectively, and the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability among those aged 15 to 49 years, accounting for  10% of all deaths in this age group.

There is strong evidence that alcohol use among the youth and its exposure causes severe health implications such as long-lasting cognitive impairments affecting memory, increased risk of lung cancer, liver damage, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, absenteeism in school, poor grades, and increased likelihood of dropping out of school.

According to Movendi International, when people consume alcohol, mechanisms such as stiffness in arteries and increased wall thickness in blood vessels are strengthened, which causes high blood pressure, leading to many serious diseases and conditions such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure.

We need policies that protect children and young people, make healthy choices easy choices, and check the industry’s influence through strong partnerships with government and civil society leaders who are committed to action. “Adam Karpati, Senior Vice President of Public Health Programs at Vital Strategies.

More troubling is the 2023 report titled “Alcohol and Blood Pressure” showing the link between alcohol, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. The report shows only the negative effects of alcohol consumption on ischemic heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases.

“High blood pressure is the single biggest preventable risk factor for disease and death in the world today, and alcohol’s contribution to high blood pressure is one of many overlooked factors,” says Frida Dangardt, senior physician and researcher at the Children’s Heart Center at Drottning Silvia’s Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, who is one of the authors of the report.

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We are calling on all Ghanaians including the media, parents, policymakers, civil society actors, research and academic institutions to support the enactment of stringent measures that regulate and limit the exposure of our children and young people to alcohol advertisements and other substances of abuse such as tobacco, electronic cigarettes, shisha, energy drinks among others.

By so doing, it creates a safer, healthier environment that nurtures the growth and development of the next generation.

The protection of present and future generations is a matter that requires our collective effort. Let’s join forces to fight any group or individual whose actions derail any lifesaving measure that protects health, moral standards and societal values.

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