Taoiseach surprised by WHO plan calling for prevention of women of "childbearing age" from drinking alcohol
"That's not the way one promotes public health at all."
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he was "surprised by the tone" of a World Health Organisation (WHO) draft report which called for the prevention of drinking alcohol among women of "childbearing age".
Earlier this week, the WHO pushed for women of “child-bearing age” to be prevented from drinking alcohol as part of the first draft of its Global Alcohol Action Plan 2022-2030, which urges countries to raise awareness among the public about the risks and harms associated with alcohol consumption.
The draft report, which has proven controversial, includes a particular focus on how children are impacted when exposed to alcohol while still in the womb.
In order to lessen these impacts, the organisation suggested preventing not only pregnant women from drinking alcohol but any woman of a “child-bearing age”.
Under this advice, steps would be taken to prevent millions of women from drinking alcohol.
Asked about the WHO advice, the Taoiseach told reporters: "I saw that... From my perspective, I was somewhat surprised by the nature of that advice and the content of it, the tone of it. So, I would have to see that in greater detail.
"We have very progressive public health advice here in terms of alcohol and pregnancy. It's not advised obviously as we know but I think some of the language around that was almost 'We should make people do X and Y' and that's not the way one promotes public health at all.
"It's through education. It's through awareness programmes. That's how you do it. I was surprised by the tone and the manner in which that was articulated."
The Taoiseach then clarified that he only read about the WHO plan in the media and had not read the actual report itself.
The WHO report states: "It is necessary to raise awareness among decision-makers and the general public about the risks and harms associated with alcohol consumption.
"Appropriate attention should be given to the prevention of the initiation of drinking among children and adolescents, prevention of drinking among pregnant women and women of childbearing age, and protection of people from pressures to drink, especially in societies with high levels of alcohol consumption where heavy drinkers are encouraged to drink even more."
You can read the WHO report here.