WHO Collaborating Centre
Professor Casswell has made a long term contribution to the World Health Organisation (WHO), serving as temporary advisor, consultant, member, rapporteur and chair in numerous meetings of experts and government officials, mainly in Geneva, the Western Pacific Region and the South East Asian Region. She has been a member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Alcohol and Drug Dependence since 1986 and was a member of the 2006 Expert Panel meeting which reported on Problems Related to Alcohol Consumption; the report of this meeting played a key role in shaping the content of the WHO Global Strategy to Reduce Harmful Use of Alcohol which was endorsed in 2010. The Research Centres she has directed have been designated as a WHO Collaborating Centre since 1991, one of four Collaborating Centres in New Zealand. SHORE was re-designated in 2016.
The terms of reference for the WHO Collaborating Centre are:
- To assist WHO in strengthening international collaboration on alcohol and drug policy development.
- To collaborate in research on alcohol-related harm, alcohol consumption and alcohol policy development and implementation.
- To increase awareness and implementation of the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol.
- Capacity building for alcohol policy development and implementation.
The relationship with WHO is with HQs in Geneva but also has focus on the Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) and the South East Regional Office (SEARO). The Collaborating Centre is also a participant in the Global Co-ordinating Mechanism for NCDs.
SHORE was closely involved in the development of a regional alcohol strategy for the Western Pacific. Professor Casswell chaired the technical meeting held in 2006 to develop the Regional Strategy to reduce harm from excessive alcohol consumption and SHORE was contracted by WHO Regional Office, to prepare three background papers on alcohol taxation, alcohol marketing and trade treaties:
- Alcohol Marketing in the Western Pacific
- Alcohol Taxation in the Western Pacific Region
- Economic Treaties and Alcohol in the Western Pacific Region
These three background papers were made available at the WHO Regional Committee meeting which was held in Auckland in September 2006. (The reports have been translated into French and are also available to download from the Secretariat of the South Pacific website)
"The availability of this evidence informed the discussion on the draft regional strategy - and it was a great outcome that the Strategy was unanimously accepted by the 37 member states," says SHORE Director, Sally Casswell:
Following on from the background papers, SHORE researchers Sally Casswell, Linda Hill and Sally Liggins drafted a resource book to support the implementation of the strategy. The draft resource book was considered at a Pacific Meeting held in Auckland in May 2008, funded by NZAID and co-organised by SHORE and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC). The meeting aimed to strengthen collaboration between government and NGOs and also between Pacific nations. As well as strengthening networks and exchanging information and experiences about alcohol related harm and lack of policies, participants received training in a programme logic approach to planning, which they found very useful.
The resource book was subsequently published by WHO in 2009 as - The Western Pacific Regional Strategy to Reduce Alcohol-Related Harm: How to Develop an Action Plan to Implement the Strategy . It gives examples of good practice, which will allow various countries within the Western Pacific to work towards implementing effective alcohol policies appropriate to their country construct.
In 2009 WHO funded the Research Centre to carry out a project on Sustainable Data Collection and National Alcohol Policy Development involving several middle-income countries in South East Asia, including Viet Nam which is an emerging market for the transnational alcohol corporations..
Sally Casswell and Martin Wall with other participants at the Hanoi workshop, Viet Nam
Dr Martin Wall at the Hanoi workshop
In 2011 the Western Pacific Regional Office published Addressing the harmful use of alcohol: a guide to developing effective alcohol legislation based on work conducted by SHORE. This provides an overview of rationale for legislation in different alcohol policy areas along with examples drawn from around the world but with a particular focus on the WPRO region.
Professor Casswell was also involved in the consultation process leading to the development of a Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol which was endorsed by the World Health assembly in May, 2010.
SHORE has assisted the development of technical tools for the World Health Organization, as part of a global project, one addressing pricing policies and the other addressing legislation. The purpose of these tools is to provide technical support to countries, thereby increasing their capacity to formulate and implement national alcohol policies that accord with the WHO Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol. The tools comprise part of a larger WHO initiative, and will be used in conjunction with regional workshops and direct support in selected countries.
In November 2014 Professor Casswell was invited by WHO to act as a technical consultant at a meeting in Hanoi as part of a programme to develop alcohol legislation and policy in Viet Nam. She also participated in a two day workshop on alcohol law development. This involved discussions with WHO on support programme in Viet Nam, key issues for alcohol control law, and policy options. Professor Casswell participated in technical meetings with partners on alcohol law development including representatives from Preventative Medicine and Legislative departments of the Ministry of Health. She was the keynote speaker at a workshop on alcohol law development attended by representatives from all relevant sectors.
Dr Taisia Huckle assisted in the development of a resource book Young People and Alcohol published in 2015 by the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO). The objective of this resource is to increase knowledge, raise awareness, advocate for the issue in the Region and to promote policies and programs effectively reducing harmful use of alcohol, addressing in particular the threat posed by alcohol consumption to the younger generation. This was published in 2015
In April 2016 WPRO organised in collaboration with the Hong Kong Department of Health an intercountry forum on protecting young people from the harmful use of alcohol and Professor Casswell provided technical support to the meeting.
In August 2016 WHO, in collaboration with Thai Health, launched an initiative to support alcohol policy development in selected countries, including Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. This first meeting of the collaborative project provided the technical support in strengthening the implementation of the global and regional strategies and plans for alcohol policy development. Professor Casswell is providing technical support to the project.
In March 2017 Professor Casswell spent a week in Colombo as a consultant to WHO/SEARO to support the development of a national alcohol strategy and action plan in, Sri Lanka.