Participants were initially trained in the fields of policy formulation, implementation and monitoring, as well as on how to enhance existing alcohol policies that are known to be effective. By organizing the topics in modules, the participants were also able to learn about alcohol misuse at a global level, and about the role and goals of the alcohol industry. The workshop’s main focus, however, was on how to best teach these modules and on how to address questions and challenges that may occur when doing so. An important point emphasized was that participative and interactive methodologies were a better way to create a constructive and encouraging learning environment than just lectures. Finally, the importance of involving other stakeholders such as government representatives in the advocacy process was strongly emphasised, and participants were encouraged to base the development of alcohol policies on sound evidence.
Feedback from the participants indicated that they felt they were given a “road map” that would help them organise future workshops. They found it also important that we had addressed very practical issues such as the choice of location for an alcohol policy workshop, who to invite, and training in the effective use of audiovisual material. Because of a lack of research, the biggest challenge remaining is to determine alcohol consumption patterns on the national level. Participants were encouraged to work closely with governments and academic institutions to promote research projects that document alcohol usage patterns.
One very positive and immediate outcome of the workshop was the creation of an Interim Committee for a Southern Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA). The Committee’s aim is to establish a permanent body to promote and develop evidence-based alcohol policies in Southern African countries.
This project story is related to the project Blue Cross Norway Expands its Training on Alcohol Policy Formulation to Various Countries in Africa