Civil Society Concern Regarding The Global Fund Partnering With Heineken


Hon. Mrs Aida Kurtovic, Chair of the Board

Hon. Mr Peter Sands, Incoming Executive Director

Hon. Mrs Marijke Wijnroks, Interim Executive Director

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
Chemin de Blandonnet 8
1214 Vernier
Geneva, Switzerland

Dear Mrs Kurtovic, Mr Sands and Mrs Wijnroks,

It is with tremendous appreciation and respect for the work and mission of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria  that we write to you today to voice our deep concern with the newly announced partnership with Heineken, and to respectfully urge you to immediately end this partnership.

The era of sustainable development should be all about partnerships; to address cross-cutting drivers and determinants of ill-heath and poverty, to mobilize resources, to unlock synergies across sectors, and to galvanize truly sustainable efforts to implement evidence-based good practice for transformational change.

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. However, we respectfully point out the dangers inherent in partnerships with the producers and marketers of hazardous products such as alcohol.

Alcohol and the TB and AIDS epidemics

In November 2017, global leaders adopted the Moscow Declaration to end TB. With the declaration Member States commit themselves to

Achieving synergies in managing TB, co-infections and relevant noncommunicable diseases, undernutrition, mental health and harmful use of alcohol and other substance abuse, including drug injection.[1]”

In the landmark “Blind Spot” report “Reaching out to men and boys” from November 2017, UNAIDS writes that

[…] harmful use of alcohol increases risk to a range of communicable and noncommunicable diseases, including HIV. Heavy [alcohol use] has also been shown to increase the progression of disease within people living with HIV[2].

Modelling studies have suggested that […] structural interventions—such as those that increase the price of alcohol, restrict the marketing of alcohol and reduce its availability—can reduce alcohol consumption and lower rates of sexually transmitted infections.”

Alcohol is a major risk factor for both TB[3] and HIV/AIDS[4], and it is increasingly recommended that alcohol policy best buy interventions be part of the responses to both epidemics.

Alcohol – a major obstacle to sustainable development

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[5]. Therefore,  target 3.5 of the SDGs commits governments to “Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol.”

Significant progress on alcohol policy will be necessary to achieve this and other SDG targets, including targets 3.3 and 3.4 to end the epidemic of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria and to reduce  premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by a third by 2030.

Conflict of Interest

Partnerships with the alcohol industry are laden with inherent conflicts of interest. Transnational corporations producing and aggressively marketing alcohol rely on the harmful use of alcohol for their sales and profits. In South Africa for example, a recent research study showed 90% of alcohol was consumed in harmful alcohol use occasions.[6]  This underpins the conflict of interest, which leads companies such as Heineken to undermine and subvert evidence-based alcohol policy implementation at the same time as they expand distribution networks and marketing to grow their market in low-and middle-income countries.

A partnership such as this with the Global Fund is of great value to Heineken. It redirects attention from the costs of harmful use of alcohol and positions Heineken to governments, the public and the global community as a legitimate partner in implementing sustainable development solutions, while at the same time their lobbying organizations was actively working to prevent implementation of effective alcohol policies[7].

Indeed, it clearly states on the Global Fund’s website that “the broad range of private partners engaging with the Global Fund understand that investing in health equals investing in markets, people and the long-term profitability of their businesses. Partnering with the Global Fund also brings visibility, recognition and opportunities to further develop businesses.”

This suggests that the Fund is aware of how the new partnership with Heineken helps give the company visibility, brand recognition and opportunities to further grow its business across Africa.

The Global Fund has previously attempted to partner with the alcohol industry, in collaboration with SABMiller in 2012. At that time the Fund was exposed to serious criticism[8]. The argument made at the time, that it was naïve of the Global Fund to exclude partnerships with the arms and tobacco industries while failing to understand the conflict between alcohol industry and public health and sustainable development goals, is still valid today.

All these concerns are exacerbated by the documentation of Heineken’s conduct in Africa. In the book “Heineken in Africa. A Multinational Unleashed” Olivier van Beemen writes:

Heineken claims to have a positive impact on economic development and employment in Africa. After investigation though, these claims turn out to be unfounded or even false. On balance, Heineken’s presence has hardly benefited Africa at all, and may in fact have been harmful.”

Respectful request for reconsideration

We are deeply concerned about this partnership and its implications for global health. We therefore respectfully request that you end the partnership with Heineken and that you take our concerns into consideration when conducting due diligence exploring future partnerships.

We welcome dialogue with you and remain at your disposal for further discussions.

Yours sincerely,

Kristina Sperkova, International President, IOGT International

Sally Casswell, Chair, Global Alcohol Policy Alliance

Katie Dain, CEO, NCD Alliance

New York, Auckland, London, February 1, 2018


Letter of concern to the Global Fund regarding partnership with Heineken (PDF)


(as of February 28, 2018)

  1. ACT Health Promotion, Brazil
  2. Actis – Norwegian Policy Network on Alcohol and Drugs
  3. Alcohol Action New Zealand
  4. Alcohol and Drug Information Center (ADIC), Sri Lanka
  5. Alcohol Focus Scotland
  6. Alcohol Healthwatch, New Zealand
  7. Alcohol Justice, USA
  8. Alcohol Policy Network in Europe (APN)
  9. Alcohol Policy Youth Network (APYN), Europe
  10. AV-OG-TIL (Campaign network for alcohol free zones), Norway
  11. Blue Cross International
  12. Blue Cross Norway
  13. Blue Cross in Tchad
  14. Bolivian Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (REDBOL)
  15. Civil Society Network on Substance and Drug Abuse (csnETsda), Nigeria
  16. Center for Youth Eduction (CEM), Bosnia and Herzegovina
  17. Council of Churches in Namibia
  18. DiGNIDAD Coalition, Philippines
  19. Dutch Institute for Alcohol Policy (STAP), Netherlands
  20. Drug Policy and Harm Reduction Platform, Malawi
  21. East African Alcohol Policy Alliance
  22. Emonyo Yefwe International, Kenya
  23. European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare)
  24. European Center for Monitoring Alcohol Marketing (EUCAM)
  25. European Public Health Alliance (EPHA)
  26. Estonian Temperance Union (AVE)
  27. FORUT, Germany
  28. FORUT, Norway
  29. Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), Australia
  30. Framework Convention on Global Health Alliance  (FCGH), Switzerland
  31. Ghana NCD Alliance
  32. Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), Liberia
  33. Health and Trade Network (HaT)
  34. Health Related Information Dissemination Amongst Youth (HRIDAY), India
  35. Healthy Caribbean Coalition
  36. Healthy Lanka Alliance for Development, Sri Lanka
  37. Healthy Latin American Coalition (CLAS, Coalición Latinoamérica Saludable)
  38. Interamerican Heart Foundation
  39. International Network on Brief Interventions for Alcohol and other Drugs (INEBRIA)
  40. International Pediatric Association
  41. Institute for Alcohol Studies, UK
  42. Institute for Research and Development (UTRIP), Slovenia
  43. Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA), Ghana
  44. IOGT Gambia
  45. IOGT Germany
  46. IOGT movement, Iceland
  47. IOGT Norway
  48. IOGT-NTO Movement, Sweden
  49. IOGT Poland
  50. Kawempe Youth Development Association (KYDA), Uganda
  51. League Against Intoxicants, Norway
  52. Lithuanian Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition (NTAKK)
  53. Milestones Rehabilitation Foundation, Nigeria
  54. National Council Against Smoking, South Africa
  55. NCD Alliance, Malawi
  56. NCD Alliance Lanka, Sri Lanka
  57. NCD Child
  58. New Dawn, Zambia
  59. New Vois Association of the Phils. Inc. (NVAP), Philippines
  60. Nepal NCD Alliance
  61. Nordic Alcohol and Drug Policy Network (NordAN), Northern Europe
  62. Norwegian Cancer Society
  63. Ohaha Family Foundation, Nigeria
  64. People Against Drug Dependence and Ignorance (PADDI), Nigeria
  65. Safe Sociable London Partnership, UK
  66. Students’ Campaign Against Drugs (SCAD), Kenya
  67. Slovenian Coalition for Public Health, Environment and Tobacco Control
  68. South African NCD Alliance
  69. Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance- Zambia
  70. Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance
  71. Stop Drink Network, Thailand
  72. Sri Lanka Alcohol Policy Alliance
  73. Teamcoby, Nigeria
  74. The Cancer Association of South Africa
  75. Salvation Army, Norway Iceland and The Faeroes
  76. The Wellbeing Initiative, Nigeria
  77. UDK Consultancy, Malawi
  78. UK Health Forum, United Kingdom
  79. United States Alcohol Policy Alliance
  80. Union for International Cancer Control (UICC)
  81. Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), Ghana
  82. Vital Strategies
  83. WEMOS, Netherlands
  84. West African Alcohol Policy Alliance
  85. Wimmera Drug Action Taskforce, Australia
  86. WomanHealth Philippines
  87. World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF International)
  88. World Medical Association (WMA)
  89. World Stroke Organization
  90. World Woman’s Christian Temperance Union (WWCTU)
  91. Women’s Coalition Against Cancer (WOCACA), Malawi
  92. Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network (YP-CDN)
  93. Zambia NCD Alliance

For media contacts:

IOGT International

Maik Dünnbier

Director of Strategy and Advocacy


Global Alcohol Policy Alliance

Sally Casswell


+64-21 655 346

NCD Alliance

Lucy Westerman

Communications & Policy Officer

Note to the editor:

For immediate release on February 1, 2018

The Book ”Heineken in Africa. A Multinational Unleashed” is a critical case study about the business practices of the Dutch brewer in Africa. The revelations in the book have led to parliamentary questions being asked in both the Dutch national assembly and the European Parliament.

List of references:

[1] Moscow Declaration to End TB, adopted at the First WHO Global Ministerial Conference ”Ending TBn the Sustainable Development Era: a multisectoral response” November 16-17, 2017, accessed online January 30, 2018

[2] The Blind Spot. Reaching out to men and boys. Addressing a blind spot in the response to HIV, UNAIDS/JC2911E, 2017, accessed online January 30, 2018

[3] Imtiaz S, Shield KD, Roerecke M, et al. Alcohol consumption as a risk factor for tuberculosis: meta-analyses and burden of disease. Eur Respir J 2017; 50: 1700216 [ 13993003.00216-2017].

[4] Fact sheet, World Health Organization, 2015, accessed online January 30, 2018

[5] Fact sheet, IOGT International, 2017, accessed online Janaury 30, 2018

[6] Cuong, P.V., Casswell, S. Parker, K. et al, (2018) Cross-country comparison of proportion of alcohol consumed in harmful drinking occasions using the International Alcohol Control Study. Forthcoming, Drug and Alcohol Review.

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

[8] Matzopoulos (2012), Global Fund collusion with liquor giant is a clear con ict of interest, in Bulletin of the World Health Organ 2012 ;90:67–69 . doi:10.2471/BLT.11.091413