The road to a world health organization global strategy for reducing the harmful use of alcohol

Alcohol Res Health. 2011;34(2):257-60.


Harmful alcohol use and the related health effects are a global problem and therefore need to be addressed not only by individual nations but also on an international level. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that harmful alcohol use is the third leading risk factor for premature deaths and disabilities in the world, accounting for approximately 2.5 million deaths worldwide (corresponding to 3.8 percent of all deaths) in 2004 (WHO 2010). Moreover, harmful alcohol use was considered responsible for 4.5 percent of the global burden of disease as measured in disability-adjusted life-years lost in the same year. Given this scope of the impact, the WHO initiated a series of efforts that culminated in the development of a global strategy for reducing the harmful use of alcohol. This article reviews the alcohol-related activities of the WHO over the years and summarizes the central issues addressed by the global strategy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / prevention & control*
  • Global Health / trends*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • World Health Organization* / organization & administration