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APHA calls for international treaty on alcohol: Association's Governing Council passes 22 new policies.

The world needs an international treaty that will reduce the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, similar to the historic treaty on tobacco control that took effect last year, according to an APHA policy adopted in November.

Under the policy, passed during APHA's 134th Annual Meeting by the Association's Governing Council, APHA calls on the World Health Organization to adopt and implement a binding treaty that would reduce the disease, disability, injury and social harm caused by alcohol consumption.

"Worldwide, the scope of the damage makes alcohol consumption a major public health problem," the policy said. "Alcohol cannot be considered an ordinary beverage or consumer commodity since it is a drug that causes substantial medical, psychological and social harm by means of physical toxicity, intoxication and dependence."

The policy urges that such a treaty be modeled after the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Led by WHO and ratified by more than 140 countries, the tobacco treaty addresses issues such as tobacco cessation, prevention, treatment and advertising. The new APHA alcohol policy supports similar measures, including trade and advertising restrictions and taxes.

The alcohol policy was one of almost two dozen new policies passed by the Governing Council during its business sessions at the APHA Annual Meeting. The council adopted 22 policies, including three latebreakers. Among the notable new policies adopted by the Governing Council include those that support national planning for an influenza pandemic, call for the withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from Iraq, support the ability of women to obtain prescribed contraceptives and oppose abstinence-only education. The policies will serve as the Association's official stance on public health issues.

Current events were also reflected in the late-breaking policies passed by the council. Coinciding with a measure in New York City (see Page 19), one of the latebreakers urges governments to limit the use of trans fat-laden oils in restaurants. Other latebreakers focused on timely issues such as multi-drug resistant infections in health care settings, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus--commonly known as MRSA and VRE.

Because they are not subject to the same review process as other APHA policies, APHA latebreakers serve as interim policy until they go through the review process and are confirmed by the Governing Council at the next Annual Meeting.

The complete 2006 policies are now on the APHA Web site and can be accessed by visiting < links/>.

Governing Council Council members also voted in November to archive some of the Association's outdated and older policies. The 20 archived policies, which address issues such as apartheid, meat inspection and pesticides, will exist as historical documents but will not be actively used to guide APHA advocacy and work. The 2007 archiving process is now under way and member input is encouraged (see Page 37).

Also under way is APHA's regular policy process, through which members propose resolutions or policy papers that may be considered by the Governing Council in 2007. Proposals may be submitted on any public health issue, but the Association's Joint Policy Committee is especially seeking proposals that address gaps in APHA policies. APHA policy current has gaps in issues that include asbsestos disease compensation, Medicare reform, the Clean Water Act, long-term care and the role of public health in universal health coverage.

All proposals for new policies must be received at APHA headquarters by March 15. For information, A list of policy gaps and a schedule of the 2007 policy process, visit <www.>.

Governing Council approves changes

Also during its sessions at the Annual Meeting, the Governing Council approved a number of changes to the Association's voting and leadership procedures.

Following recommendations by APHA's Constitution and Bylaws Committee, Governing Council members agreed to allow Section leadership candidates to run unopposed during elections, recognized the importance of an immediate past chair position within the Sections and gave a vote to the Action Board representative on the Intersectional Council, among other measures. The Governing Council also opted to do away with requirements in the Constitution that certain communications and votes be conducted by mail, noting the use of electronic communications, and approved a measure that will allow the Executive Board to appoint a chair-elect to the Action Board, among other changes.

Because several of the changes that were passed would amend the APHA Constitution, they would need to be ratified via an Association-wide vote to take effect. The proposed Constitution changes are published in this issue of The Nation's Health (see Page 39) and a voting ballot will be published in the March issue.

In other business, the Governing Council reaffirmed health disparities, access to care and public health infrastructure as the top three priority issues for APHA to focus on in 2007. Association members, Affiliates and staff are encouraged to use the three priority areas--which have remained unchanged since 2003--as a guide when deciding where to concentrate their advocacy efforts the coming year.

During its annual elections, the council chose new APHA president-elect, three vice presidents, three new members the Executive Board and three new members of the Nominating Committee see Page 3).

Also during its meetings, the Association's Governing Council:

* chose "Public Health without Borders" as the focus of the 2008 APHA Annual Meeting, which will be held in San Diego;

* extended the work of the Task Force on Association Improvement and Reorganization--which is addressing issues such as multi-Section membership, governance and Caucus representation on the Governing Council--and appointed Andrew White, MD, PhD, as chair of the task force;

* held a breakout session to discuss revisions to APHA's strategic map, touching on issues such as advocacy and technology;

* extended the work of the Nominating Committee Working Group, which is examining issues such as the role of APHA's vice presidents, voting methodology and annual election slates;

* extended the work of the Intersectional Council and Committee on Affiliates Joint Membership Task Force, which is exploring the issue of creating a joint dues structure for APHA members who are also part of their state or regional Affiliate;

* approved the creation of a working group that will utilize the APHA Publications Board to improve the visibility of APHA and market public health; and

* advised that APHA work to avoid conflicts with elections for federal office when scheduling the dates of future APHA Annual Meetings.

In 2007, the Governing Council is scheduled to conduct business during its June 18 mid-year conference call and during the 135th APHA Annual Meeting, which will be held Nov. 3-7 in Washington, D.C.

A summary of minutes from the November Governing Council meeting will be available online via the APHA Web site.

For more information on APHA Governing Council activities, e-mail <natalie.raynor@apha. org> or call (202) 777-2433.
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Title Annotation:American Public Health Association
Publication:The Nation's Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2006
Previous Article:Performance standards program leading to health improvements: strengthening public health services.
Next Article:Summaries of 2006 policies passed by the Governing Council: new policies address issues such as pandemic flu, nanotechnology, abstinence.

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