WHO Joins Four Countries in Opening Alcohol Internet Portals

The portals include self-screening tools for hazardous and harmful use of alcohol, as well as self-help programs. The countries are Brazil, India, Mexico, and Belarus.

The World Health Organization joined with four pilot countries -- Brazil, India, Mexico, and Belarus -- to launch online portals Dec. 6 meant to help members of the public who wish to reduce the amount of alcohol they consume or stop completely. Alcohol use contributes to 2.5 million deaths per year, according to WHO, which has a global strategy to help member states reduce the harmful use of alcohol. WHO also launched an Internet portal the same day; it includes a self-screening tool and a self-help program.

WHO reports there is growing research on the effectiveness of web-based self-help interventions, which are about as effective as face-to face brief interventions and are likely to be cost-effective. "Online self-help might be the first part of stepped care and it offers an option when health professionals are scarce. The self-help program developed in the framework of this project is fully computerized and is based on a program developed by Trimbos Institute, which uses techniques from cognitive behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing that have proven efficacy. The content of the self-help intervention is based on existing WHO materials. Further support to the users of the self-help programme is offered via a moderated forum," according to its announcement.

The project received funding from the Government of the Netherlands. Visit http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/activities/ehealth/en/index.html for more information.

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