WOCACA, Movendi International call for increased awareness on dangers of alcohol consumption Watipaso Mzungu – Nyasa Times Women’s Coalition Against Cancer (WOCACA) in collaboration with Movendi International have called for increased awareness on the dangers and negative effects of alcohol consumption. WOCACA and Movendi International have made the call in their joint statement in commemoration of this year’s World Alcohol Free Day, which falls on October 2 annually. The two organizations have joined global advocates in advising the public to say NO to alcohol and are sensitizing the human race on the dangers of alcohol. On this day, advocates, people and communities around the world organize activities, take over social media, create alcohol-free environments, arrange events, and spread sober inspiration in their societies through small and big actions. WOCACA is a women and girls-led non-profit making, non-governmental cancer organization in Malawi. The organization strives to ensures and advocates for equitable access of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, (SRHR), cancer and other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) services with special focus on rural women and girls. On the other hand, Movendi International is a global social movement with a vision striving a life for all human beings free to live up to their fullest potential, and free from harm caused by alcohol and other drugs. It believes that a world of peace, democracy and justice where free and healthy citizens actively contribute in all levels of society. In an interview on Sunday night, WOCACA Executive Director Maud Mwakasungula said attempts to increase awareness in Malawi have been limited and constitute a significant urgent public health need. “Raising awareness of the health and social problems for individuals and society at large caused by the harmful use of alcohol is paramount, including ensuring support for effective alcohol policies, providing accessible and affordable treatment for people with alcohol-use disorders and implementing screening, need for intervention programmes in health services for hazardous and harmful drinking; and potential strategies for awareness are alcohol bottle labelling regarding the alcohol and cancer,” said Mwakasungula. She said her organization, in collaboration with Movendi International, is working hard to promote information exchange, good practices and networking with other organisations focusing on drug policy reforms, tobacco control and alcohol abuse as risks for several cancers. Mwakasungula further stated that WOCACA striving to promote healthy eating by enhancing public awareness education and advocacy on healthy foods and living. According to World Health Organisation statistics, alcohol is a toxic and psychoactive substance with dependence producing properties. In many of today’s societies, alcoholic beverages are a routine part of the social landscape for many in the population. This is particularly true for those in social environments with high visibility and societal influence, nationally and internationally, where alcohol frequently accompanies socializing. In this context, it is easy to overlook or discount the health and social damage caused or contributed to by drinking. Alcohol consumption contributes to three million deaths each year globally as well as to the disabilities and poor health of millions of people. Overall, harmful use of alcohol is responsible for 5.1 percent of the global burden of disease. Harmful use of alcohol is accountable for 7.1 percent and 2.2 percent of the global burden of disease for males and females respectively. Alcohol is the leading risk factor for premature mortality and disability among those aged 15 to 49 years, accounting for 10 percent of all deaths in this age group. Beyond health consequences, the harmful use of alcohol brings significant social and economic losses to individuals and society at large. Additionally, global evidence indicates correlation of cancer and alcohol use since the 1980s. The International Agency for Research in Cancer (IARC), the WHO’s research body, classifies alcohol as class one carcinogen since 1988. Alcohol consumption causes cancers of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, colorectum, liver (hepatocellular carcinoma) and female breast.” The World Cancer Report 2020 showed that in 2016, alcohol consumption was one of the leading risk factors for cancer development and cancer death globally. Alcohol caused an estimated 376,200 cancer deaths, representing 4.2 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide in 2016. Alcohol caused 10.3 million cancer disability-adjusted life years lost, representing 4.2 percent of all cancer disability-adjusted life years lost worldwide in 2016.