Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) led by Vision for Alternative Development (VALD) have called on Food and Drugs Authority and Ministry of Health to expedite action on the development of alcoholic beverage regulations.
The other CSOs are Ghana Alcohol Policy Alliance, Ghana NCD Alliance, Community Health Support Team, and Institute for Leadership and Development, Tax Advocacy Network for Health Promotion, and Media Alliance in Tobacco Control and Health.
Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Labram Musah, the Programmes Director of VALD, said the regulations, which were to regulate advertisement, marketing, accessibility and affordability were on the draft stage for several years.
Currently, he said alcohol advertisements were only restricted on television and radio from 0600 hours to 2000 hours, “yet alcohol adverts are on bill boards and the products are being sold everywhere without any restriction.”
With GHC 1.00 or less one could buy alcoholic beverage, making it one of the cheapest products in Ghana.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO),over three million people die from alcohol use annually and in Ghana 94,000 people die from non-communicable diseases and that alcohol was one of the major risk factors.
“Ghanaians are dying needlessly due to the negligence on the part of some agencies in the health sector,” Mr Musah said. “Meanwhile, there are less or no cost interventions that can be put in place to protect current and future generations from products that have no health benefits to them.”
He said there were many policies and regulations on various aspects of alcohol including; production and sales scattered in several legislations, so there was need to pool all the laws into one codified document (Public Health Act).
Alcoholic beverage industry over the years has employed many strategies and tactics targeted at children to advance their marketing and sale of deadly products.
In a related development, the Alcohol Policy Alliance-Ghana (GhanaAPA), had called for the exclusion of alcoholic beverage industry from the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policy to prevent them from promoting their products popular.
It said the industry deliberately established non-governmental organisations that promoted the consumption of alcohol, especially among the youth, through CSR programmes.
Mr Issah Ali, the Head of the West African Alcohol Policy Alliance who made the call, said the increase in alcohol intake was an obstacle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and leading to productivity losses through absenteeism, injuries and mortality.