Civil society urges the Global Fund to end partnership with Heineken

12 February 2018

UICC endorses an open letter to Senior Executives at the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, urging the organisation to end its recently announced partnership with the Heineken Company. 

On the 1st February, a consortium of global health civil society organisations  wrote to the Global Fund expressing concerns about potential conflicts of interest arising from a partnership with Heineken, and respectfully requesting the ending of the partnership given the damaging effects of alcohol on health. 

UICC is committed to uniting the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, to promote greater equity, and to integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda. Multisectoral partnerships are key to achieving this, and this approach is enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which identify and include partnerships as both a goal and a core mechanism. However, within the SDGs, the global health community has recognised the need for these partnerships to be consistent with and in support of our overall goals of improved health. Evidence suggests that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption with respect to cancer risk, and, as such, partnerships with alcohol producers are not conducive to health.

The open letter sets out that a partnership with the Global Fund is of great value to Heineken, as it redirects attention from harmful use of alcohol and positions Heineken to governments, the public and the global community as a legitimate partner in implementing the SDGs. Meanwhile, lobbying organisations are actively working to prevent implementation of effective and cost-effective alcohol policies[1] which would help reduce the burden of NCDS.

Alcohol, cancer, HIV/AIDS and the SDGs

Evidence shows that alcohol adversely affects achievement of 13 of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including poverty eradication, health for all, gender equality, economic prosperity, sustainable consumption, ending violence and building safer and resilient cities[2].

Governments have committed to SDGs 3.5 to “Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol,” alongside SDG 3.4, which aims to “Reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well-being.

Alcohol is a known carcinogen[3] and its use was responsible for approximately 5% of cancer deaths in 2012[4], or approximately 410,000 people. As such significant progress on alcohol policy will be necessary to achieve both of these and other SDG targets, including SDG 3, “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”

 

[1] Bakke, Ø and Endal D. (2010), Alcohol policies out of context: Drinks industry supplanting government role in alcohol policies in subSaharan Africa Addiction, 105, 22-28, 2010

[2] Fact sheet, IOGT International, 2017, accessed online 12 February, 2018: http://iogt.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Alcohol-andSDGs_new.pdf

[3] IARC Monograph 100E – Consumption of alcoholic neverages, accessed online 12 February, 2018: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol100E/mono100E-11.pdf

[4] Global status report on alcohol and health 2014 http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/112736/1/9789240692763_eng.pdf

Last update: 
Tuesday 13 February 2018
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