Liquor sachets

Dar es Salaam meeting on alcohol and health

30 April 2015
Annie Holmes, Daniel Nyato, Haika Osaki

STRIVE partners in Tanzania organised a meeting in the capital on 25 March 2015 with key stakeholders in policy and practice related to alcohol and health. Researchers from the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and the Mwanza Interventions Trial Unit (MITU) presented evidence on:

  • The linkage between alcohol consumption and public health
  • Alcohol use among young people in Mwanza and Kilimanjaro regions
  • Alcohol drinking norms among young people in Mwanza and Kilimanjaro regions
  • Liquor sachets (viroba) use among young people in Mwanza and Kilimanjaro regions

Representing the national government, Dr Mariam Kalomo from the Addiction Unit of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, presented an update on progress towards a national health policy. Dr Ali Mzige of the Tanzania Network against Alcohol Abuse (TNAAA) gave an outline of other initiatives to address alcohol use among young people in the country.

Background

NIMR and MITU have been working on research into the use and risks of alcohol before and since the formation of the STRIVE consortium. In order to map the context for this work, Dr Nyasule Neke met with a wide range of government and NGO representatives in 2012 in her role as Knowledge into Action member for NIMR and MITU. These efforts resulted in:

  • a landscape report, detailing national regulations, policies, enforcement agencies, NGO activities and debates around alcohol from a health perspective
  • the interest of numerous potential stakeholders, including some key decision-makers, in the findings and analysis of Mwanza researchers
  • an expanded consultative role for NIMR–MITU processes to develop national policy on alcohol

The March 2015 meeting demonstrated the strong feeling of ownership that this landscaping process had built among end-users.

Goals

The Dar es Salaam gathering in March 2015 had several purposes.

Learn from stakeholders:

  • updates to policy context
  • research needs for alcohol policy formulation
  • efforts to address alcohol use

Share with stakeholders:

  • an overall framework for understanding the health benefits of reducing alcohol advertising, availability and consumption
  • specific research progress and findings

Together:

  • revive and enhance joint activities
  • define opportunities for collaboration

Outcomes

The meeting recognised the influence of the powerful alcohol industry on public discourse, policy processes and enforcement, resulting to a lack of public discussion of health harms of alcohol use.

Participants agreed that researchers and end-users should keep meeting, in order to ensure that research is addressing the key questions for policy, practice and resource allocation.

Identified needs included:

  • evidence to guide initiatives in general
  • evidence on the impact of the location of outlets and marketing on alcohol use by youth
  • research findings to be shared with public/community in KiSwahili
  • a stronger push by NGOs, advocacy groups and other allies to establish an alcohol policy and secure political support for a health agenda on alcohol

Saidi Kapiga engaging with the media

The meeting received considerable coverage in the national media, most of it in KiSwahili. Examples include:

  • a broadcast on Michuzi TV
  • a blog on Mwananchi about alcohol sachets
  • a blog on Tanzania Today
  • a blog on Hivisasa
  • a blog on Wazalendo 25

Resources

Participants

The meeting was organised and led by researchers from NIMR and MITU:

  • Dr Saidi Kapiga
  • Dr Gerry Mshana
  • Dr Joel Francis
  • Haika Osaki
  • Daniel Nyato

Participants from government, NGOs and UN agencies included:

  • Mossi Ndozero, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (traffic police)
  • Mathias Helman, UNESCO
  • Lutgard Kagaruki, Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF)
  • Erick Goodluck, Tanzania Public Health Association (TPHA)
  • Dr Plaxeda Swai, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS)
  • Dr Laetitia Sayi, Ministry of Education
  • Dr Macca Mbalwa of Grassroots Initiative for Youth
  • Elderly Development Organization (GIYEDO)
  • Florence Francis, Frame of Integrity in Tanzania (F.I.T)

The media was represented by: