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Legislative Advocacy and Alcohol Harm Reduction Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Emeka Diru, Nigeria Mar 18, 2009
Health , Education   Experiences
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Overview of the Alcohol Youth Prevention Initiative (APYI) Shared Learning Seminar Held At Ken Nnami Centre For Leadership & Development , Abuja On the 27th & 28th of February, 2009


Impaired judgment, blackouts, infertility, liver cirrhosis, depression, brain damage, cancers, sudden infant death syndrome, suicidal tendencies are but a few of the direct impact of excessive alcohol intake in the individual. The impact on the larger society is visible in the increased accident rates, increased crime rate, juvenile delinquencies, drug abuse, child abuse, substance abuse and all sorts of vices can be traced to the individual’s inability to exercise control over his behavior in the face of excessive alcohol intake. Hence, the need to raise the awareness of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption is very critical to the development of our society.
Nigeria as a country currently has no policies regulating the use of alcohol. Existing policies drafted during the colonial rule are obsolete, since they have no relevance to the current situation in the country.
The seminar had in attendance participants from different walks of life: undergraduates, civil society organizations, ministry of education, and health workers.

The Seminar:
The seminar kicked off with a presentation titled Alcohol Policy by Prof. Isidore Obot, Chairman, Centre for Research Information on Substance Abuse (CRISA), member W.H.O, trustee APYI Nigeria and Global Alcohol Policy Alliance. He gave a global picture of the burden of excessive alcohol consumption on the economies of the world and initiatives being promoted to check the excesses of alcohol related problems. Leading health organizations like the W.H.O have recently passed two resolutions recognizing excessive alcohol intake as a threat to development; and the deployment of strategies to combat this threat, taking into account the peculiarities of each of its member countries involved. Critical areas that need to be addressed in Nigeria, he said, relates to lack of policies on alcohol and the willingness of legislators to draft policies that would be able to tackle the problem of the Nigerian environment.

The second day of the event ushered in a presentation by Miss Olapeju Ajoke, a final year medical student of the University of Lagos, member APYI Nigeria. She focused on the Physiological Implications of Alcohol on the Human Body, grouping the effects into long term and short term (within 72hours). It was explained that Alcohol is a psychoactive drug and a Central Nervous System (CNS) depressant, whose effect in the blood is directly proportional to the quantity consumed. Top on the list of effects were: brain damage, cirrhosis, hepatitis, depression, suicidal ideation, infertility, abortion, low birth weight in the foetus, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), impaired nerve functions, pancreatitis, diabetes, ulcers and malnutrition, amongst others.

The next topic of discussion, Advocacy: A veritable tool in Harm Reduction was presented by Mr. Emeka Diru of the KNCLD/Deputy Director APYI, Nigeria, he started by explaining on the need for a legislative advocacy as an aspect of reducing the harm, he also further stated that influencing the major key players in Government would go a long way to bring about influence in policy and further implementation of proposed framework when developed, in addition he stated the need for building synergy with other will form a strong forum to make our voice to be heard, with the 10 points/tip of the advocacy frame work into our programme became a push talk for discussion.

Mr. Tony Nnedum, who was unavoidably absent due to some pressing circumstances, was duly represented by Mr. Benjamin from NAPTIP, who identified the “Role of youth organizations in alcohol reduction in Nigeria”. Noting the fact that about 50% of the nation’s population are youths, it is imperative that youths and youth organizations like APYIN, joined forces to tackle the alcohol problem which he posits is more dangerous than tobacco smoking. His reasons being that: a non-alcohol drinker is more likely to die from the effect of alcohol drinking, which could manifest as drunk driving, road accidents, and irresponsible behavior, amongst others. He emphasized on the need for APYIN to create awareness on the harmful effects of alcohol drinking and ultimately be an instrument to bring to existence alcohol policies in the country.

There was also a roundtable discussion consisting of three groups of participants, to develop strategies and best practices relevant to our socio-political situation, which would aid in the battle against excessive alcohol consumption. The following suggestions were made by all the groups and these would form the rallying points for action. (Find attached)
The seminar concluded with a vote of thanks from Dr. Sam Amadi of the KNCLD, reiterating the Centre’s willingness to support future projects of this nature.

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Emeka Diru

Development rests on virile youth...my concern is to give back to our communities,improve lives ,influence policy, and design framework for change.
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