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The 3rd WHO Forum on Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviors was Held Online!
The 3rd World Health Organization Forum on Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviors organized by the Alcohol, Drugs and Addictive Behaviors Unit of the World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters, Department of Mental Health and Substance Use took place online between 22-25 June 2021.
The forum, which holds great significance for the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, made important contributions to the target of “Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol”.
The main theme of the Forum in which the Turkish Green Crescent Society participated was the steps that could be taken against the new challenges erupted in the field of public health during the COVID-19 pandemic and the acceleration of the studies on this field of research. Despite the challenges caused by the pandemic, the topic of Universal Health Coverage was highlighted with a special focus on the issue of strengthening prevention and treatment which are also closely related to the Sustainable Development Goals. The lessons learned regarding the programs and policy areas that have been improved and accelerated to be utilized in crises caused by substance abuse and behavioral addictions, the key takeaways and more effective ways of taking actions in the face of such complex crises since the end of the pandemic were identified.
Within the scope of the Forum, international cooperation was aimed to be achieved in the works of WHO on the issues of health and social burdens caused by addictive substances and behaviors during the pandemic period when this quality of vulnerable groups increased even more. In the Forum, the technical report, which started to be prepared by the directive given to the WHO Director-General by the WHO Executive Board in February 2020 on the issue of public health problems caused by alcohol use globally, was discussed. In this technical report, the draft version of the 2022-2030 action plan and SAFER Policy Package developed for the harms caused by alcohol use were also evaluated.
A session on the effect of gambling on public health was held at the forum. In the session, which took place with the co-moderation by World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters Mental Health and Substance Use Department Coordinator Vladimir Poznyak and YEDAM Director Melike Şimşek, the work in WHO Gambling Workshop hosted by Turkish Green Crescent Society in Istanbul in 2019 were mentioned. Dr. Angel Rintoul (Psychiatrist, Monash University, Australia), Prof. Henrietta Bowden-Jones (Psychiatrist, The Royal Society of Medicine (UK), Head of Psychiatry) and Prof. David Hodgins (University of Calgary, Canada) presented sections of national experiences and comparative academic studies on the public health problems of gambling.
New opportunity areas were identified in the Forum where the outputs of the United Nations 2016 General Assembly Special Session gathered to seek a solution to the global drug abuse problem and the achievements gained in 5 years period since this session were evaluated. In the Session where the General Secretary of Vienna NGO Committee Ergin Beceren made a speech on behalf of the VNGOC, the transformation of public health policies on drugs in the last five years and the effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on this transformation were debated. Suggestions on the significance of institutional cooperation with non-governmental organizations in all work and meetings of UN organs and increasing the opportunities to work together were put forward.
The Turkish Green Crescent Society continues to contribute to the work of WHO with the goal of raising healthy generations
The Forum provided a crucial platform both for WHO Secretariat and its partners to promote their key products and activities to support work regarding public health problems that member states face and for the technical and material support to be assured to member states' programs and policies to reduce the public health burdens arising from substance use and behavioral addictions.
Turkish Green Crescent Society, which plays an active role in the public health field both nationally and internationally, actively took part in the Forum with its leading role in the fields of prevention and intervention of addictive substances and behaviors posing great danger to public health, especially to the young people. Turkish Green Crescent Society, contributing to the process of WHO’s improving new opportunities and mechanisms in the field of public health, sustained its contribution to the aims of WHO to raise healthy generations and in that regard to achieving world peace through sustainable development with its work that encourages a healthy life away from addictions and addictive behaviors while considering vulnerable groups.