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Fourth WHO Forum on Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (FADAB): Taking stock of the past and looking into the future: focusing on tasks, challenges and opportunities ahead

The World Health Organization (WHO) Forum on alcohol, drugs and addictive behaviours is a biannual event that seeks to strengthen international partnerships and collaboration in order to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our time. Harmful use of alcohol as well as drugs and addictive behaviours have devastating effects on individuals, families and their communities and have enormous socioeconomic impacts at national and global levels. We have a shared responsibility to prevent and reduce this burden. The Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (ADA) Unit, within the Department of Mental Health and Substance Use at WHO Headquarters organizes, for the fourth time, the WHO global Forum on Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (FADAB).

The primary goal of FADAB is to strengthen partnerships and collaboration among public health-oriented organizations, networks and institutions to accelerate and sustain public health actions in a  rapidly changing world. Taking stock of the past and looking into the future; focusing on tasks, challenges and opportunities ahead is the theme for the 2023 Forum.

The fourth FADAB takes place soon after the COVID-19 pandemic, which not only presented new challenges to health systems around the world, but also accelerated some policy and programme developments that have the potential to bring lasting public health benefits beyond the pandemic. The fourth Forum will have a special focus on implementation of the WHO-led SAFER initiative that is based on strategies and interventions included as “high-impact” in the global alcohol action plan. Progress with attainment of SDG health target 3.5 and new data will be presented and discussed, also by representatives of other UN entities and intergovernmental organizations.

Mr. Labram Musah’s, the Executive Director of Programs of VALD Ghana was present at Forum to demonstrated his commitment to advancing public health agendas and contributing to the global discourse on tackling these challenges especially on alcohol control.

Mr. Labram Musah, raised thought-provoking questions at the Fourth WHO Forum on Alcohol, Drugs, and Addictive Behaviors regarding the industry’s tactics and potential interferences. He focused on issues such as targeted marketing, industry influence on public health policies, accountability, transparency, and regulatory measures. By posing these questions, Mr. Musah aimed to stimulate discussions and promote critical analysis of the industry’s practices, emphasizing the need for responsible behavior and safeguarding public health initiatives from undue industry influence.

The fourth Forum will continue to serve as a platform for presenting and discussing international efforts in implementation of operational recommendations of the UNGASS 2016 on the world drug problem, and two sessions will be devoted to health consequences of non-medical cannabis use and current policy and programme responses.

More space at the fourth Forum will be devoted to public health dimensions of addictive behaviours with a focus on gambling and gaming, and there will be an opportunity to discuss the available data on their health impact as well as the policy responses in different jurisdictions. The fourth WHO FADAB will serve as a forum to discuss new opportunities, frameworks, activities and plans for intensified international collaboration on public health dimensions of alcohol, drugs and addictive behaviours. These efforts align with WHO’s strategic objectives to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

“After the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to an online format of the third Forum on Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviours (FADAB), the WHO Secretariat is pleased to welcome you in-person to the fourth edition of the Forum in Geneva. Building upon the success of the previous three FADABs held in 2017, 2019, and 2021, the fourth Forum aims to enhance international collaboration among key stakeholders in the fields of substance use and addictive behaviors. The focus will be on dis-cussing the implementation of international commitments, including those outlined in the Global alcohol action plan (2022-2030) approved by the World Health Assembly in 2022. These commitments require action to be taken over the next seven years.
As the world emerged out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly impacted our lives and public health priorities, the importance of strong international collaboration to address sub-stance use and addictive behaviours as important determinants of mental health and well-being has become even more evident. It is essential to pro-mote and support international efforts and partner-ships in order to make progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2030 tar-gets. This includes SDG health target 3.5 that calls for strengthening prevention and treatment of sub-stance use and substance use disorders.
I extend my best wishes for a productive Forum!”

Dr Jerome Salomon

Assistant Director-General

Division of Universal Health Coverage/Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases(UCN)

World Health Organization

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