Alcohol Use Disorders (35) Do people understand the harms of alcohol? (9) How can they be better informed? (5)

9 February, 2024

Thanks for sharing this 2016 news on alcohol use ignorance in the UK.

Frankly, considering the high literacy rate of UK population and the excellent work that the NHS UK has been doing for 75 years, I am surprised to read that, 'Yet worryingly, awareness of the risks is very low. For example, only 1 in 10 people in the UK are aware of the link between alcohol and cancer.[1]'. That sounds more like what one expects of LLMICs.

But even then, I think it is time to reconsider the public health advice/guideline about safe alcohol drinking. The current advice as also quoted in the 2016 report is that, '[New guidelines] advise that, to keep risks low, you are safest to drink no more than 14 units per week, with these units spread out over 4–5 days.'

I feel that the advice misses a crucial starting point, which is abstinence, that is 'no aclohol at all'. It may sound draconian and impossible to some, but actually a no alcohol status gives the person a 'no risk' position, better than 'low risk'.

I am reminded about the Public Health advice given in HIV campaigns: 'A.B.C." (A: Abstinence from sex; B: Be faithful to one partner, if you cannot abstain, C: Use the condom if you cannot do A or B). And over the years it has worked, along with other measures ofcourse, and not without opposition from especially religious groups and alcohol business (both manufacturers and sellers).

'no drinking of alcohol is the best advice ----' and therefore the Public Health advice on Alcohol use should be revised to start with emphasizing the fact. It may not be easy to stop for those who drink already, but the public health advice should state the facts fully.

Joseph Ana

Prof Joseph Ana

Lead Senior Fellow/ medical consultant.

Center for Clinical Governance Research &

Patient Safety (ACCGR&PS) @ HRI GLOBAL

P: +234 (0) 8063600642


8 Amaku Street, State Housing, Calabar, Nigeria.

HIFA Profile: Joseph Ana is the Lead Senior Fellow/Medical Consultant at the Centre for Clinical Governance Research and Patient Safety (CCGR&PS) with Headquarters in Calabar, Nigeria, established by HRI Global (former HRIWA). He is the Country Coordinator for PACK Nigeria (Practical Approach to Care Kit) which is specifically designed to improve clinical competence (improving accuracy of diagnosis and treatment) in primary health care. He is also a Member of the World Health Organisation’s Technical Advisory Group on Integrated Care in primary, emergency, operative, and critical care (TAG-IC2). As the Cross River State Commissioner for Health (2004-2008), Joseph Ana led the introduction of the evidence based, homegrown quality tool, the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance Programme (12-PCGP) in Nigeria, which also suitable for lower-, low-, and middle income countries (LLMIC) with similar weak health sector and system. To ensure sustainability of 12-PCGP, the ‘Department of Clinical Governance, Servicom & e-health’ was established in Cross River State Ministry of Health in 2007. His main interest is in ‘Whole health sector and system strengthening in LLMICs’. He has written six books on the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance Programme, including the TOOLS manual for its Implementation, currently in its 2nd Edition. He served as Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association’s Standing Committee on Clinical Governance (2012-2022), and he won the Association’s ‘Award of Excellence’ on three consecutive occasions for the innovation of 12-PCGP in Nigeria. He served as Chairman, Quality & Performance subcommittee of the Technical Working Group for the implementation of the Nigeria Health Act 2014. He was Member, National Tertiary Health Institutions Standards Committee (NTISC) of the Federal Ministry of Health, 2017-2022. He is the pioneer Secretary General/Trustee-Director of the Charity, NMF (Nigerian Medical Forum UK) which took the BMJ to West Africa in 1995. Joseph is a member of the HIFA Steering Group; the HIFA working group on Community Health Workers, and the Working Group on HIFA-WHO Collaboration ( Email: info AT and jneana AT