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Alcohol policies in Malawi : inclusion of WHO “best buy” interventions and use of multi-sectoral action.

Matanje Mwagomba, Beatrice L. and Nkhata, Misheck J. and Baldacchino, Alex and Wisdom, Jennifer and Ngwira, Bagrey (2018) 'Alcohol policies in Malawi : inclusion of WHO “best buy” interventions and use of multi-sectoral action.', BMC public health., 18 (S1). p. 957.


Background Harmful use of alcohol is one of the most common risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases and other health conditions such as injuries. World Health Organization has identified highly cost-effective interventions for reduction of alcohol consumption at population level, known as “best buy” interventions, which include tax increases, bans on alcohol advertising and restricted access to retailed alcohol. This paper describes the extent of inclusion of alcohol related “best buy” interventions in national policies and also describes the application of multi-sectoral action in the development of alcohol policies in Malawi. Methods The study was part of a multi-country research project on Analysis of Non-Communicable Disease Preventive Policies in Africa, which applied a qualitative case study design. Data were collected from thirty-two key informants through interviews. A review of twelve national policy documents that relate to control of harmful use of alcohol was also conducted. Transcripts were coded according to a predefined protocol followed by thematic content analysis. Results Only three of the twelve national policy documents related to alcohol included at least one “best buy” intervention. Multi-Sectoral Action was only evident in the development process of the latest alcohol policy document, the National Alcohol Policy. Facilitators for multi-sectoral action for alcohol policy formulation included: structured leadership and collaboration, shared concern over the burden of harmful use of alcohol, advocacy efforts by local non-governmental organisations and availability of some dedicated funding. Perceived barriers included financial constraints, high personnel turnover in different government departments, role confusion between sectors and some interference from the alcohol industry. Conclusions Malawi’s national legislations and policies have inadequate inclusion of the “best buy” interventions for control of harmful use of alcohol. Effective development and implementation of alcohol policies require structured organisation and collaboration of multi-sectoral actors. Sustainable financing mechanisms for the policy development and implementation processes should be considered; and the influence of the alcohol industry should be mitigated.

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Publisher statement:© The Author(s). 2018 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:23 August 2018
Date of first online publication:15 August 2018
Date first made open access:23 August 2018

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