Global Fund collusion with liquor giant is a clear conflict of interest
Richard Matzopoulos, Charles DH Parry, Joanne Corrigall, Jonny Myers, Sue Goldstein & Leslie London
Alcohol is the third leading contributor to death and disability in South Africa, where SABMiller is the major supplier of malt beer, the most popular beverage consumed. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) has recently included SABMiller as a recipient of funding for an education intervention aimed at minimizing alcohol-related harm, including HIV prevention, among men in drinking establishments. Global Fund support for this initiative is cause for concern. It is debatable whether these men are the best target group for the intervention, whether a drinking establishment is the best location, and whether the educational intervention itself is effective. Our experience is that the liquor industry is inclined to support alcohol interventions that will not affect drinking rates at a population level. These interventions allow the industry to simultaneously fulfil social and legal obligations to address the harmful use of alcohol while ensuring that sales and profits are maintained. Providing funding for a highly profitable industry that could afford to fund its own interventions also reduces the funds available for less well-resourced organizations. Do we take it that the problem of “corporate capture” has now spread to one of the largest health funders in the world?