India will support a global treaty to restrict alcohol use worldwide at the World Health Organisation’s annual World Health Assembly in Geneva on May 17-22 this year.
“India and Sweden have decided to work together in the forthcoming World Health Assembly for eventually instituting a framework convention on alcohol control,” said Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.
In 2008, India had requested the World Health Organisation to declare October 2 — Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday — as the World No Alcohol Day and introduce global restrictions on alcohol sale, advertising and consumption, similar to those against tobacco.
As a result of the tobacco treaty, most countries have imposed bans on smoking in public and workplaces.
According to the WHO, two billion people worldwide consume alcohol and 76.3 million have diagnosed alcohol-related disorders. It causes more than 60 types of disease and injury and 1.8 million deaths a year, which represents 3.2 per cent of all deaths worldwide. Accidents related to alcohol consumption account for roughly a third of alcohol deaths.
A study by the Bangalore-based National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences has shown that the average age of starting to drink in India has dropped from 28 years during the 1980s to 20 years.
In India, 32 per cent adults are alcohol users, and between 4 and 13 per cent drink alcohol daily, reported the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3, 2007). The proportion of alcohol consumption among rural and urban India is similar — 32 and 31 per cent respectively.
India and Sweden have also agreed to partner in infrastructure development, anti-microbial resistance, pharmaceuticals, medical research, health policy research, alcohol policy and adolescent health.
“We have our strengths in pharmaceuticals and research in infectious diseases. India has the highest number of the US Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs outside the US and could be a potential exporter to Sweden,” said Azad.