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News
10.12.2014

Joint Action RARHA: Reducing Alcohol Related Harm

Joint Action RARHA: Reducing Alcohol Related HarmBACKGROUND AND PURPOSE

Joint Action RARHA was created to continue work on key priorities of the EU alcohol strategy while waiting for the next five-year term of the European Commission to begin at the end of 2014.

 

Background in the EU strategy on alcohol

The EU strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol related harm, launched in 2006, aims at reducing harm among children, young people and adults. Key areas for action also include strengthening the evidence base and raising awareness of alcohol related harm and consumption parterns. Joint Action RARHA focus on these underpinning priorities.
 
Joint Action by Member States
 
Joint Action is a (particular type of) project created in the framework of the 2nd EU health programme 2008-2013, aimed at mobilising Member States’ health authorities in joint action on a theme that has clear EU added value. It is therefore an ideal instrument for taking forward work on topics that have been on the agenda in the EU Committee on National Alcohol Policy and Action (CNAPA), formed by Member States’ representatives. The concept of RARHA has been developed within CNAPA and it functions as the Advisory Group for the Joint Action.
 
Wide range of countries and partners
 
Wide participation in RARHA demonstrates the need across Europe to tackle alcohol related harm through public health policies and the importance of a solid knowledge base for policy planning. At the launch of RARHA in January 2014, all but one EU Member States were on board and, in addition, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
 
The actual partners are for the most part public health institutes or other expert organisations in the field of health, designated by national Ministries of Health. Some 60 partners are involved, either as associate partners, with an operating project budget co-funded by the EU, or as collaborating partners who either follow the work and provide input as appropriate, or who participate actively in the work on their own cost. In Joint Actions, the minimum co-funding required from Member States is 50% but in RARHA national funding amounts to 54% of a total of € 3,3 million, also reflecting the importance accorded to the initiative by the participating countries.
 
The level of EU funding varies from 79% for the European NGOs Eurocare and EuroHealthNet, designated as participants by the Commission, to zero for international expert organisations such as WHO Regional Office for Europe, OECD Health Division and Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe. The EMCDDA and Eurostat also actively following RARHA’s work.
 
Focus on three topics
 
Joint Action RARHA is focused on three core work areas:

· Providing cross-country comparable data on levels and patterns of alcohol consumption and on alcohol related harms experienced due to own alcohol use or due to drinking by other people (Work Package 4).

· Fostering consensus on good practice principles regarding the setting of guidelines on low-risk or high-risk drinking to help reduce harm from alcohol (Work Package 5).

· Facilitating exchange of good practices among health authorities by compiling into a Toolkit examples of successful use of information/education to reduce alcohol related harm (Work Package 6).
 
Input into policy processes
 
The information and tools developed in RARHA will serve the planning of public health policies on alcohol. An interlinked aim is to support the renewal of the EU alcohol strategy. The aims set in 2006 have not yet been reached and the cornerstones for success – up-to-date knowledge base and wide awareness of alcohol related harms – still require more work.
 
The RARHA work process includes expert/policy makers meetings to discuss findings and ways forward. Part of the results will be presented in the form of policy briefs. RARHA is due to end with a final conference in 2016, which is probably the earliest possible year for the launch of a new EU alcohol strategy.
 

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