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Alcohol use has been proven to be one of the driving factors behind the spread of HIV and TB.

"The next steps should be a final termination of the partnership with Heineken and a strengthening of the Fund's conflict of interest regulations to exclude the alcohol industry". Morten Lønstad, FORUT Seretary General.

Global Fund Suspends Partnership with Heineken

The Global Fund has suspended its partnership with the beer company Heineken. “It is based on recent reports of the company’s use of female beer promoters in ways that expose them to sexual exploitation and health risks”, explains the Fund in a brief press statement.

“We take these allegations very seriously and have challenged Heineken to examine their operations and make changes to protect women from sexual exploitation and health risks,” said Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund.

Olivier van Beemen 800p.jpgThe Executive Director also said that the Fund is suspending the partnership until such time as Heineken can take appropriate action to address these issues.

Documentation on Heineken's use of beer girls to promote sales of their products in at least ten African countries was presented in a newly published book by the Dutch journalist Olivier van Beemen (picture left).

"Even if this decision is limited to a suspension of the partnership and that the basic conflicts of interests are not addressed by the Global Fund, we welcome this as a first step towards making the Fund independent from vested intests in the alcohol industry"; comments FORUT's Secretary General, Morten Lønstad (picture right). "The next steps should be a final termination of the partnership with Heineken and a strengthening of the Fund's conflict of interest regulations to exclude the alcohol industry".

Morten Lønstad Beskåret.jpgThe Global Fund was heavily criticized some weeks ago by public health activists from all over the world because the Fund launched a partnership with Heineken to use the beer company’s logistics and communications expertise to help deliver medical supplies in Africa.

In a letter supported by around 100 NGOs, the organisations claimed that is was inappropriate of a fund that shall prevent the spread of TB and HIV to partner with a company that sells large amounts of a product that has been proven to be one of the drivers behind the spread of the same diseases.

The letter was initiated by the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance, the NCD Alliance and IOGT International, among others. Government representatives from Norway and Sweden, two of the main contributing countries to the Global Fund, said they would raise the issue with the Fund’s board.

When The Global Fund now suspends the partnership after only a few weeks, the motivation is not out of concern for the people who drink too much beer but out of concern for women who are used by Heineken to promote the beer.

The use of beer girls has been a part of Heineken’s marketing strategy for many years. This practice has been challenged on several occasions, and the company has repeatedly promised to change this practice. When the issue comes to public yet another time, it is as a consequence of a newly published book in the Netherlands; “Bier voor Afrika. Het best bewaarde geheim van Heineken” (The best kept secret of Heineken) written by the independent journalist, Olivier van Beemen.

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