Debating Conflict of Interest issues | Taking money from the alcohol industry

For NGOs, CBOs and cash-strapped governments, it is very easy to be seduced into taking money from anyone who is willing to provide it, especially if it will make a difference to whether or not you are able to carry out your programmes. But should you? Even if you have few viable alternatives? This is a very real dilemma faced by the non-profit sector and, to a lesser extent, government departments in South Africa and globally.

We have assembled an international panel of public health researchers and practitioners to talk about this specifically in relation to alcohol advocacy work. The alcohol industry globally has shown that they are willing to fund civil society and government programmes, directly and indirectly, through direct funding, public private partnerships (PPPs) and other means, and to present themselves as a ‘caring’ industry. But what is their true agenda? Could it be that they are using CSI support as leverage in their fight against the introduction of tougher alcohol legislation which could impact negatively on their sales and profits? Does this not pose a ‘conflict of interest’ for NGOs, CBOs and government departments that are working hard to ensure such legislation is indeed passed and implemented in the interests of public health and saving lives and money? And, if so, what concrete steps can be taken to ensure alternative, untainted funding sources for this important work?

> Prof Leslie London: PHM SA and UCT South Africa

> Gianna Gayle Amul : PHD student at University of Geneva’s institute of Global Health
> Dr Samin Saban: Research Psychologist – Singapore
> Dr Melissa Mialon – France
26 Nov 2020 English South Africa Society & Culture · Government

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