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6. Conclusion

    Alcohol is not an ordinary commodity. While it carries connotations of pleasure and sociability in the minds of many, harmful consequences of its use are diverse and widespread

    From a global perspective, in order to reduce the harm caused by alcohol, policies need to take into account specific situations in different societies. Average volumes consumed and patterns of drinking are two dimensions of alcohol consumption that need to be considered in efforts to reduce the burden of alcohol-related problems. Avoiding the combination of drinking and driving is an example of measures that can reduce the health burden of alcohol.

    Worlwide, alcohol takes an enormous toll on lives and communities, especially in developing countries and its contribution to the overall burden of disease is expected to increase in the future. Particularly worrying trends are the increases in the average amount of alcohol consumed per person in countries such as China and India and the more harmful and risky drinking patterns among young people.

    National monitoring systems need to be developed to keep track of alcohol consumption and its consequences, and to raise awareness amongst the public and policy-makers. It is up to both governments and concerned citizens to encourage debate and formulate effective public health policies that minimize the harm caused by alcohol.

    This text is a summary of: WHO Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004
     Conclusion, p.67

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