Screening for harmful alcohol use in Montenegro
A roundtable meeting held in Pogorica, Montenegro on 27 September 2013 addressed the early detection of harmful alcohol use and alcohol-related disorders. The meeting was organized jointly by the Ministry of Health and the WHO Country Office, Montenegro.
The event continues the implementation of the national strategy for the prevention of alcohol abuse and alcohol-related disorders in Montenegro, which was produced with WHO support and adopted by the government of Montenegro in 2012.
Deputy Minister of Health Dr Mensud Grbović spoke at the meeting emphasizing that preventing and reducing harm from alcohol was one of the most significant priorities in modern health. He said: "The Health Care System is central to solving problems caused by harmful use of alcohol on an individual level, both directly related to alcohol use and for all other diseases and conditions. Another important task of the health system and health care professionals is to inform the public about the social and health consequences of harmful alcohol consumption."
Alcohol use could lead to disability and mortality
Ms Mina Brajović, Head of the WHO Country Office for Montenegro, agreed with Dr Grbóvic that alcohol posed a significant risk, outweighed only by that of tobacco. She pointed out that alcohol use could lead to disability and mortality that could be prevented.
"This is why health promotion and disease prevention play an important role in the work of health care workers," she explained. "People perceive their chosen physician as a credible source of advice about risk factors, including alcohol consumption." She went on to emphasize the evidence that demonstrates the benefits of screening programmes.
Presentations given at the event included an overview of the situation in the European Region given by Dr Lars Møller of WHO/Europe. Dr Sanel Kusturica from the Psychiatric Hospital of Kotor is WHO's focal point for alcohol. He presented a framework for the introduction of the national screening programme in Montenegro and Dr Marina Roganovic, also from the Psychiatric Hospital Kotor, presented on diagnosis and treatment. Specialists from the Mental Health Centres and Centres for Prevention, representatives from the Ministry of Health, Institute of Public Health, the Health Insurance Fund and the Psychiatric Hospital Kotor were also present.
The event was organized thanks to a cooperative agreement between the Ministry of Health and WHO/Europe. It was part of a drive to strengthen national capacity for the prevention and control of chronic noncommunicable diseases and effects of common risk factors, which is a strategic priority of the cooperation. To support this, technical assistance was provided to develop the screening programme for early detection of harmful alcohol use and alcohol related disorders in Montenegro. The next step will be development of a quality programme for the early detection of these disorders, followed by a comprehensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, whose comments and suggestions will be taken into account.