On the initiative of the NDPHS Expert Group for Alcohol and Drug Use (ASA EG), the new network cooperation for municipalities in the Baltic Sea region was established in Oslo on 9 November this year.
Around 30 representatives from the municipalities of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, and Norway, together with the representatives of the Expert Group from the national level of the NDPHS partner countries, gathered in Oslo to present to each other how they work, challenges they face, and to discuss how to cooperate transnationally to achieve more effective results in their work.
Prevention work on the harm caused by use of alcohol comprises of national level and local level actions. In addition to the national alcohol policy, a variety of local-level actions are needed with active involvement and support by the municipality politicians in order to become successful and sustainable.
The network is aiming to become a platform for sharing knowledge, learning from each other, and building capacity in strengthening community actions in health promotion and alcohol prevention. Local-level alcohol prevention can be for example improved by cooperation and coordination between local actors from different sectors(including other sectors of government with local responsibility affiliated to regional or national level) in setting priorities, making decisions, planning strategies, and implementing them to achieve better health for people living in the communities.
“Building coalitions, like this network, and by seeking to implement at the local level appropriate parts of the best buys listed by the WHO for prevention measures, constitutes a catalyst for sustainable development”.
Community work of this kind must be well anchored and supported by the local political leadership and be a long-term commitment that is followed up year after year without stopping to produce results. This is the recipe for successful preventive work that Håkan Leifman (Karolinska Institute), one of the pioneers behind the model in Sweden with preventive work at the local level conveyed to the meeting.
“It was impressive to learn about municipalities’ different ways of working preventively with alcohol and drug use. We look forward to developing this network cooperation together” – commented one of the municipal representatives after the meeting. A clear signal that the establishment of the network is timely and that exciting and important work lies ahead.