Alcohol and public health in Africa: Can we prevent alcohol-related harm from increasing?

Carina Ferreira-Borges, Sonia Dias, Thomas Babor, Marissa B. Esser, Charles D H Parry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the total amount of alcohol consumed in the African region is expected to increase due to the growth of new alcohol consumers, especially young people and women. With the changing alcohol environment, increases in the alcohol-attributable burden of disease are inevitable. To our knowledge, there has not been a comprehensive analysis of the factors that could be driving those increases. The objective of this study was to examine the evidence from peer reviewed literature regarding the factors that could be instrumental in this process, in order to inform strategic policy-related decisions. Method: A narrative review was conducted using a thematic analysis approach. We searched papers published between January 2000 and July 2014 in PubMed, the WHO's Global Health Library and African Journals Online. Results: Our analysis identified seven factors (demographics, rapid urbanization, economic development, increased availability, corporate targeting, weak policy infrastructure and trade agreements) which are potentially tied to changes in alcohol consumption in Africa. Driven largely by globalization, a potential convergence of these various factors is likely to be associated with continued growth in alcohol consumption and alcohol-related morbidity and mortality. Conclusions: To address the emerging risk factors associated with increased alcohol consumption, African governments need to take a more active role in protecting the public's health. In particular, important strategic shifts are needed to increase implementation of intersectoral strategies, community involvement in the policy dialogue, health services re-orientation and better regulation of the alcohol beverage industry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1373-1379
Number of pages7
JournalAddiction Biology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015


  • Africa
  • Alcohol availability
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Alcohol policies
  • Alcohol problems
  • Economic development
  • Emerging markets


Dive into the research topics of 'Alcohol and public health in Africa: Can we prevent alcohol-related harm from increasing?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this