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WHO Bulletin on Global Fund conflict of interest
An article in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization raises concerns regarding conflict of interest in a partnership where SABMiller, the world’s second largest brewer by sales volume, receive funding from the Global Fund for a HIV/AIDS prevention project in drinking establishements in South Africa. "No conflict of interest" replies the Global Fund.
The recent issue of Bulletin of the World Health Organization carries a round table section: "Global Fund collusion with liquor giant is a clear conflict of interest. The First article is by Richard Matzopoulos, Charles DH Parry, Joanne Corrigall, Jonny Myers, Sue Goldstein and Leslie London. They describe how 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.The authors think Global Fund support for this initiative is cause for concern.
The article discusses whether men in drinking establishments are the best target group for the intervention, whether a drinking establishment is the best location, and whether the educational intervention itself is effective. Their 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.
Ask the authors: "Do we take it that the problem of “corporate capture” has now spread to one of the largest health funders in the world?"
Global Fund replies
Gilmore and Fooksa warns that the need for funding will continue to drive corporate philanthropy in global health, until those developing or funding alcohol interventions address these potential conflicts better, problems such as this one under discussion will recur and the harms arising from alcohol misuse will fail to be addressed. Even in the field of tobacco control, which is arguably leading the way in this area, the drive for resources continues to result in conflicts.
They conclude: "It is clear that robust rules for managing potential conflicts of interest are required to ensure effective philanthropy in the public interest."
See the WHO Bulletin articles on this page or dowload directly: Global Fund collusion with liquor giant is a clear conflict of interest