REEP members attend the 7th Global Alcohol Policy Conference (GAPC)

29 Nov 2023
7th GAPC conference
29 Nov 2023

Corné Van Walbeek and Nicole Vellios attended the Global Alcohol Policy Conference (GAPC) from 24 to 26 October 2023 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. The conference theme was “Investing in People before Profits: building momentum towards the Framework Convention on Alcohol Control”.
The conference brought together about 300-400 delegates from about 50 countries, mainly from Africa and other low- and middle-income countries. There is an increased urgency to address the detrimental impact of alcohol. The WHO estimates that 3 million people die from alcohol each year. Many speakers indicated the need for a framework convention for alcohol policy, based on the success achieved through the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Before the conference, on 23 October, Corné and Nicole attended a session for organisations funded by Vital Strategies’ RESET Alcohol Program. Nicole gave an overview of alcohol policy in South Africa. Other countries funded by RESET, and that were represented at the meeting, include Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Kenya, Mexico, Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Uganda. Civil society organisations, government officials (including two MPs from Uganda), academic institutions, and funding agencies were present.

Vital Strategies’ RESET Alcohol Program

On the first day of the conference, Corné and Nicole entered the advocacy space by supporting colleagues from UCT’s medical school who organized a silent protest. The aim was to call on Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu (who was present in the plenary session), to "PASS THE LIQUOR AMENDMENT BILL NOW".

Protest: 2016 Liquor Amendment Bill

The 2016 Liquor Amendment Bill seeks to restrict advertising, increase the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 years, and regulate trading days and hours, among other interventions. There has not been any substantial movement on the bill for many years.

We made very useful contacts with colleagues doing similar work in other countries. Many tobacco researchers are moving into the alcohol space as there is overlap between tobacco and alcohol.
The 7th GAPC was co-hosted by the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance, the South African Medical Research Council, and the South African Alcohol Policy Alliance. It was also co-sponsored by the World Health Organisation, South Africa’s Department of Social Development and the Department of Health, the National Research Foundation, the DG Murray Trust and SA Tourism.

7th GAPC audience