WHO helps EU Member States enhance surveillance of alcohol consumption and harm


WHO has developed a series of measures and instruments to support Member States in their efforts to enhance alcohol surveillance and improve the national processes for estimating alcohol consumption and the burden of alcohol-attributable disease.

The instruments, including a new fast-track process for annual monitoring of alcohol use in the WHO European Region and new software designed to make the estimates of alcohol-attributable mortality and morbidity more accurate, were presented during a meeting in Moscow on 8–9 October with selected Member States from the Region.

“This meeting is very useful for the Member States, especially because it included discussions of some very concrete measures on generating and using alcohol data. Cooperation between WHO and Member States is of utmost importance, but so is cooperation between different Member States – as we can learn so much from each other, ” stated Krzysztof Brzózka, Director of the State Agency for the Prevention of Alcohol-Related Problems, Poland.

Alcohol intake in the European Region is the highest in the world. In 2016, the Region had the highest proportion of all deaths (10.1% of all deaths) and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) (10.8% of all DALYs) caused by alcohol consumption. This is why European Union (EU)–WHO cooperation in the field is so important, and the new fast-track tool can become a game changer for efficient monitoring and surveillance actions, and ultimately help curb this unhealthy regional trend.

The software tool presented at the meeting, the International Model of Alcohol Harms and Policies (InterMAHP), is an open-access tool designed to be used by international alcohol research teams for alcohol harm estimation and policy scenario modelling. The tool, that will use data collected and validated by WHO, was developed by the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research and will help Member States to gain a better overview of alcohol-related harm at the national level, thus contributing to better informed alcohol policies.

“The policy modelling part of the InterMAHP tool seems like a very timely and much needed instrument. If we can visualize different policy scenarios and show what each scenario can do for equity – not only regarding sex, region and age, but also taking into account socioeconomic status – our decisions will be more informed and contribute to equality and well-being throughout the region more efficiently,” said Richard Henriksson, Analyst, Department of Living Conditions and Lifestyles, Public Health Agency of Sweden.


WHO–EU cooperation in the area of alcohol has been a successful initiative leading to comparable data and harmonized indicators regarding consumption, harm and policies. Under the EU-funded MOPAC Project (Monitoring of national policies related to alcohol consumption and harm reduction), the EU and WHO have cooperated in collecting data to update the shared alcohol information system for the EU and the WHO European Region.

Data collected and validated by Member States can be used to assess the implementation of the WHO Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol, the European Action Plan to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol 2012–2020 and the Action Plan on Youth Drinking and on Heavy Episodic Drinking of the Committee on National Alcohol Policy and Action. It also informs the WHO’s reporting on the Sustainable Development Goal indicator 3.5.2 (on the harmful use of alcohol) and indicators included in the Global Monitoring Framework on Noncommunicable Diseases, as well as on progress achieved in the implementation of national commitments, as elaborated in the 2011 United Nations Political Declaration and the 2014 United Nations outcome document on noncommunicable diseases.