African health advocacy organizations have joined in a global campaign against the Heineken beverage company’s new partnership with The Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
The Dutch company’s announcement came during the World Economic Forum in Davos, as Heineken promised to share its expertise in logistics and supply chain management with health care delivery systems.
“Heineken will support efforts in countries in Africa where the company is present to improve the effectiveness of the ‘last mile’ distribution, which focuses on ensuring the right goods can reach health care facilities and patients in remote areas,” the Global Fund said in an announcement release. “This is already taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and Nigeria.”
The company has a 100-year history on the African continent and saw firsthand the severity of the HIV epidemic on its communities, Heineken said. Yet that’s not sitting well with IOGT International, a global organization focused on alcohol and drug harm reduction, nor with related organizations. They’ve sent a joint letter to Global Fund directors asking them to end the partnership with the alcoholic beverage firm.
Among those cosigning the letter are the West African Alcohol Policy Alliance, East African Alcohol Policy Alliance, and the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance.
“We understand the need to seek new financing mechanisms for global health and see the apparent benefits of building on the logistics developed by commercial enterprises,” the letter said. “However, we respectfully point out the dangers inherent in partnerships with the producers and marketers of hazardous products such as alcohol.”
The letter writers note alcohol as a major risk factor in HIV transmission, and its harmful use as a barrier to attaining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “Partnerships with the alcohol industry are laden with inherent conflicts of interest,” the organizations add. “Transnational corporations producing and aggressively marketing alcohol rely on the harmful use of alcohol for their sales and profits.”
To see the complete letter sent to The Global Fund, check this link.
Image: Dutch ambassador Kinshasa