A readiness assessment for the prevention of alcohol-related harm in West Africa: A new methodological approach to inform practice and policy

Monica H. Swahn, Kennesaw State University
Zakaria Robow, Georgia State University
Franklin Umenze, Preston Hospital Lekki
Adelaide Balenger, Georgia State University


Objective: Alcohol-related harm is a growing concern globally and particularly in West Africa. However, tools for assessing the readiness for prevention of alcohol-related harm in low-resource settings have been lacking. We modified the WHO tool, the Readiness Assessment for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment Short Form (RAP-CM), to assess readiness for the prevention of alcohol-related harm across West Africa. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey in the fall of 2020, distributed by the West Africa Alcohol Policy Alliance to their member alliances and stakeholders, predominantly community-based organizations (CBOs) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), across 7 countries in West Africa (N = 140). The survey included modified measures from the RAP-CM short form. Results: In terms of general readiness, the overall adjusted aggregate score for West Africa was 45.0% (ranging from 42.9% in Liberia to 52.7% in Senegal). Of the ten domains assessed (on a 0–10 scale), across all countries, knowledge of alcohol-related harm prevention (8.3) and legislation, mandates, and policies (6.7) received the highest readiness scores. The lowest readiness scores were observed for human and technical resources (2.5), attitudes toward preventing alcohol-related harm (2.7), and the will to address the problem (2.9). Conclusions: Our results demonstrate substantial variability across domains in the readiness to address alcohol-related harm with clear strengths and limitations for future priority setting and capacity building. The barriers to progress include attitudes toward alcohol-related harm prevention, lack of willingness to address the problem, and limited human and technical resources available. These barriers need to be mitigated to address the high burden of alcohol-related harm in the region and to inform both practice and policy.