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Saturday, November 8, 2008

Commission on Social Determinants of Health - Final Report

Closing the gap in a generation: Health equity through action on the social determinants of health

Social justice is a matter of life and death. It affects the way people live, their consequent chance of illness, and their risk of premature death. We watch in wonder as life expectancy and good health continue to increase in parts of the world and in alarm as they fail to improve in others.

pg. 135
There are nearly 2 million alcohol-related deaths per year, of the same order as HIV/AIDS at 2.9 million. Absolute levels of alcohol-related disease and disability are as high in the poorest countries of Africa and America as in Western Europe and North America. Alcohol-related disease is highest in the former Soviet Union and Central Asia, amounting to 13% of the total burden. In the Russian Federation itself it is even higher (PPHCKN, 2007b). A society without effective alcohol policies is likely to experience a sharp rise in alcohol problems during economic development. The transition in the former Soviet Union is a striking example. In the Russian Federation, the ‘shock therapy’ and economic liberalization in 1992 included a total deregulation of trade in alcoholic beverages. The subsequent mortality rise in the Russian Federation has been linked to a rise in binge drinking of alcohol (Leon et al., 1997;
PPHCKN, 2007b).

pg. 142
Learning from the FCTC, the Commission urges WHO to initiate a discussion with Member States on regulatory action for alcohol control (Boxes 12.18 and 12.19). The WHO European Region suffers the highest levels of alcoho lrelated disease and violence, with very large differences in alcohol-related mortality between countries. European policy discussion has been characterized by a conflict of view: is alcohol a commodity like any other, or should it be seen as a public health concern, whose trade could be regulated to protect people’s health? The Commission urges governments in the WHO European Region and globally to work together to limit alcohol-related harm

Executive summary (PDF)

Download the full report (PDF)