New government must make implementation of life-saving legislation a priority, says Mental Health Ireland & Alcohol Action Ireland, as global conference convenes in Dublin
In Ireland, the most recent Global Burden of Disease data (2016) indicates that annually 2,790 deaths are alcohol related; that is nearly 8 deaths every single day.
Ireland’s progressive public health law reform measures to tackle alcohol harm in this country must be implemented without delay by the new government, two leading NGOs have said.
As a global policy conference on alcohol convenes in Dublin this Monday (9th March), the CEOs of Mental Health Ireland and Alcohol Action Ireland say that lives are being lost due to the stalling of implementation of the Public Health Alcohol Act (PHAA).
For example, a central measure of the Act, Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP), still has not been implemented, nor are there any timelines for doing so. Research from Scotland and other jurisdictions has shown that MUP curbs harmful drinking in the most vulnerable populations, and saves lives.
Recognising the connection between alcohol use and mental health, Mental Health Ireland and Alcohol Action Ireland work together to advocate for policy initiatives that will address the damaging impact of alcohol on mental health.
Mr Martin Rogan, CEO, Mental Health Ireland, said:
“For many Irish people, alcohol use can be an attempt self-medicate mental health issues and concerns. This unfortunately has the effect of camouflaging and compounding their original difficulty, delaying treatment and postponing recovery. We know that alcohol acts as a depressant and in Ireland, the link between alcohol misuse and the tragedy of self-harm and suicide is well documented and recognised.
“The Public Health (Alcohol) Act of 2018 represents a mature and measured response which can greatly improve individual and our community’s mental health and wellbeing.”
Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO, Alcohol Action Ireland said:
“Ireland’s Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 (PHAA) is a great example of how law reform can drive social change in the public interest. Just as Ireland led the way globally in terms of progressive tobacco laws, the PHAA is hugely progressive in terms of protecting public health. Industry lobbied heavily to prevent these laws and that lobbying goes on today. It’s not an exaggeration to say that enacting all of the measures within the public health alcohol act will save lives and so we must do so without delay. Ireland’s hosting of GAPC2020 provides our policymakers with a great opportunity to discuss, and collaboratively explore, the most effective pathways for alcohol policy.”
The Global Alcohol Policy Alliance is a network of non-governmental organisations and people working in public health agencies who share information on alcohol issues and advocate evidence-based alcohol policies, free from commercial interests. Its biennial global conference is the leading forum for the world’s alcohol policy makers, advocates, researchers, civil society activists and practitioners.
The conference being held in Dublin Castle from 9-11 March, will have the theme: “Alcohol Equity and Global Health: the benefit of alcohol control for sustainable development for all.” It maintains the tradition of focusing on advocacy, overcoming vested interests in alcohol policy development and the need for international collaboration to stop the harm caused by alcohol.