Uganda Drafts Manual to Address Alcohol Use Disorders.


Like many other countries, Uganda faces significant challenges related to Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs) resulting from hazardous alcohol consumption. This situation has a considerable impact on public health and the social well-being of consumers.

However, in collaboration with WHO, 17 addiction treatment specialists held a five-day workshop to draft a manual to guide the screening and management of people affected by hazardous drinking and alcohol use disorders as part of an ambitious initiative to tackle alcohol-related problems. 

The Minister of Health psychiatrist Dr. Kenneth Kalani Okware, who was present at the workshop explained that to combat and reduce the impact of excessive alcohol consumption, it is essential to develop a comprehensive tool that will help primary health care workers delivers effective care. 

He said as mental health specialists, we should focus on designing a comprehensive Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) protocol that matches the needs of primary care workers.”

The manual was created in line with the WHO SAFER initiative launched in 2018 at the Third UN High-Level Meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). SAFER is a technical package of cost-effective interventions for the prevention of harmful alcohol use. 

The initiative has been developed to deliver health and development gains to meet global, regional, and national health needs, and to reduce the human suffering and pain caused by harmful alcohol use.

According to WHO Representative to Uganda, Dr. Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the harmful use of alcohol has a devastating impact on Consumers’ health including injuries, mental health problems, and diseases like cancer and stroke. I call on the government of Uganda to strengthen restrictions on alcohol availability and facilitate access to screening, brief interventions, and treatment at all levels.”

The WHO Technical Officer for Non-Communicable Diseases, Dr. Hafisa Kasule, who attended the session, stated that “Ugandans currently consume over 12 liters of pure alcohol per year per capita. Surprisingly, less than 50% of people drink, which suggests that those who do are overindulging. This presents a problem that requires quick attention, she said.

She also emphasized the importance of addressing the widespread issue of hazardous alcohol consumption in order to fulfill Sustainable Development Goal 3.5 on alcohol and drug addiction.

The World Health Organization has long worked with Uganda to prevent and control alcohol use. Actions taken to date include, among others, the creation of a risk factor survey in 2013 and 2023 to ascertain the country’s alcohol consumption burden and the adaptation and piloting of the Mental Health Gap Action Program (MHGAP) intervention guide to make it easier for patients to access alcohol use disorder services in primary healthcare facilities.

Moving forward, WHO is negotiating with Ugandan lawmakers to push for the passage of the Alcohol Control Bill. With the help of this law, the nation’s alcohol production, marketing, and consumption will be regulated legally.


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