More than 500 public health professionals, health scientists and NGOs from 60 countries – inlcuding Alcohol Action Ireland – recently signed a joint Statement of Concern about the activities of the global alcohol producers.
The Statement, sent to WHO Director General Dr Margaret Chan earlier this month, raises concerns about the conflict of interest between multinational alcohol companies and public health policies designed to tackle alcohol harm. It was drawn up in response to public announcements made in October 2012 by 13 of the world’s leading alcohol producers, outlining their commitments to implementing the WHO Global Alcohol Strategy.
Responding to an article about the Statement of Concern that appeared in the British Medical Journal, WHO Director General Dr Margaret Chan has confirmed that “the alcohol industry has no role in the formulation of alcohol policies, which must be protected from distortion by commercial or vested interests”.
Dr Chan also expressed gratitude on behalf of WHO “to the many researchers and civil society organizations that keep careful watch over the behaviour of the alcohol industry. This behaviour includes direct industry drafting of national alcohol policies, or drafting through the International Centre for Alcohol Policies and other entities or ‘public health consultants’, which it funds.”
Professor Thomas Babor, from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, USA, led the drafting of the Statement, which was written by a group of international experts under the auspices of the Global Alcohol Policy Alliance. He commented:
“Based on their lack of support for effective alcohol policies, misinterpretation of the Global Strategy’s provisions, and their lobbying against effective public health measures, we believe that the alcohol industry’s inappropriate commitments must be met with a united response from global health community.”
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