28 October 2022, Johannesburg, South Africa – It is recognized that public education campaigns and programmes about alcohol and risks, responsible drinking behaviour, and the availability of help and treatment are essential to reduce harmful use.

Screening and Brief Interventions (SBI) for hazardous and harmful drinking are considered a preventative approach which measures an individual’s drinking pattern during outpatient or wellness visits and provides interventions to those at risk of harmful use of alcohol. In addition, web-based information, self-testing and self-help guidance, using simple advice and education materials are some of the channels of information that can be further utilized to advance this objective.

At the same time, training and support provided to primary care practitioners and health workers to use SBI tools to learn and practice to address two levels of risk 1) hazardous and 2) harmful drinking is critical to contribute to improving the health of populations and patient groups as well as individuals.

In this line and to assist health workers to positively impact the attitudes that sustain hazardous and harmful drinking in a community, UNITAR convened the Roundtable “Leveraging Digital Technologies in Screening and Brief Interventions” in Johannesburg, South Africa to exchange knowledge on the SBI approach, assess lessons learned from the implementation of SBI pilot in Alexandra, South Africa and review results of the analysis conducted on this matter by the University of the Witwatersrand. 

The roundtable provided the opportunity to review the research findings and lessons from the SBI pilot implemented in Alexandra, South Africa. The project aimed to evaluate the applicability of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test Consumption (AUDIT-C) tool for identifying and referring high-risk alcohol consumers to relevant health facilities. Some findings indicate that approximately 43% of the participants were moderate-risk alcohol consumers and 22% were considered high-risk. Research suggested that the higher the risk in terms of alcohol consumption, the higher the probability of the rejection of the brief advice. Binge drinking was also found to be most prevalent in men.


As the next step, UNITAR will roll out a digital SBI platform to be developed in collaboration with Deloitte and the support of AB InBev Foundation and AB InBev, providing an electronic tool to enable screening and briefing both, in and outside of healthcare settings. This will be complemented with training for healthcare professionals in different targeted locations. 

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