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Open letter: Call to stop World Health Organization having closed-door meetings with alcohol lobbyists

Dear Dr Tedros,

Across the world, the most important thing is the health and wellbeing of our families and communities.

This is why the work that the World Health Organization (WHO) does to ‘give everyone an equal chance at a safe and healthy life’ is so vital.

Alcohol causes significant harm to so many people. Alcohol kills 3 million people globally, representing 5 per cent of all deaths. Alcohol also drives 5 per cent of all disease globally.

Among young adults aged 20 to 39 years, one in seven deaths are a result of alcohol. Alcohol is the greatest risk factor for disease burden among people aged 25 to 49 years.

This makes action to prevent and reduce alcohol harm vital to WHO ensuring that everyone has an equal chance at a safe and healthy life.

But alcohol companies and their lobby groups work relentlessly to undermine policies to prevent and reduce harm. They also work to undermine the health and safety of communities at the local level.

In Mexico, alcohol companies take millions of litres of water from drought ravaged communities to produce their beer, forcing communities to protest for the basic human right to access water. In Australia, the largest alcohol retailer fought for five years while they tried to build one of the biggest bottleshops in the country near a dry Aboriginal community in an area with high levels of alcohol harm, forcing the community to fight back. In Ireland, alcohol companies have lobbied at every step to undermine the Public Health Alcohol Action Act, watering down its impact and delaying many measures. In many African countries, multinational alcohol companies are deploying unethical practices to drive alcohol use, including using “beer promotion girls” and aggressive marketing that exposes children to alcohol promotions.

Right now, the WHO meets with the biggest global alcohol companies and their lobbyists formally once a year. These closed-door meetings are used by alcohol companies and their lobbyists to try to undermine health policy and programs at the global level.

This engagement needs to stop if we’re going to prevent the significant harm that is caused by alcohol.
This is why we have come together as public health, community, family violence, children’s rights and First Nations organisations to call on you as the leader of WHO to stop engaging with alcohol companies and their lobbyists.
Alcohol companies and their lobbyists should not have a seat at the table where policy and programs to progress community health, wellbeing and safety is being developed, assessed or evaluated.
The health, wellbeing and safety of our families and communities is far too important.

Yours sincerely,

Ms Gianna Gayle Amul, Secretary
Asia Pacific Alcohol Policy Alliance, Singapore

Benjamin Anabila, Director
Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA), Ghana

Mr Mahame Andrew, Founder and Executive Director
Youth for Development and Human Rights Advancement, Rwanda

Mr Adis Arnautovic, Director
Center for Youth Education, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dr Lathika Athauda, Senior Lecturer
University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

Mr Cruz Avila, Executive Director
Alcohol Justice, United States of America

Mr Bernard Basset, Président
Addictions France, France

Mr Lauri Beekmann, Executive Director
Nordic Alcohol and Drug Policy Network (NordAN), Nordic and Baltic Region

Ms Munezero Bernadette, Coordinator
Burundi Alcohol Policy Alliance, Burundi

Mrs Florence Berteletti, Secretary General
Eurocare (European Alcohol Policy Alliance), Europe

Dr Beatriz Champagne, CEO
Healthy Latin America Coalition (CLAS), South America

Wilson Chijioke, International Coordinator
Nigeria Alcohol Prevention Youth Initiative, Nigeria

Dr Nino Chikovani, Director of the Organization
Good Health and Well-Being, Georgia

Mr Phillip Chimponda, Executive Clinical Director
Serenity Harm Reduction Programme Zambia (SHARPZ), Zambia

Dr Regina Ching, Hon Secretary
Hong Kong Alliance for Advocacy Against Alcohol, Hong Kong

Ms Brenda Chitindi, Executive Director
Tobacco Free Association of Zambia, Zambia

Mr Patrick Cokola, Partnerships Officer
Maroy Foundation, DR Congo

Mr Rick Collins, President
Collins Consulting, LLC, Finland

Dr Laura Cury, Alcohol Project Coordinator
ACT Promoção da Saúde, Brazil

Mr Wim van Dalen, Executive Director
STAP, Netherlands

Mrs Aadielah Maker-Diedericks, Secretary General
South African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA), South Africa

Mr Minani Diogène, Legal Representative
Action Jeunesse contre la Drogue et la Pauvreté (AJEDROP), Burundi

Mr Anuar Djedjo, President
IOGT Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

Ms Alison Douglas, CEO
Alcohol Focus Scotland, Scotland

Mr Yong Kim Eng, President
People Center for Development and Peace, Cambodia

Dr Marcomini Franco, President
Eurocare Italia, Italy

Dr Oscar Garcia-Algar, Chair
EUFASD Alliance, Europe

Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO
Alcohol Action Ireland, Ireland

Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair
Alcohol Health Alliance, United Kingdom

Ms Caterina Giorgi, CEO
Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), Australia

Mr Aðalsteinn Gunnarsson, General Manager
International Organisation of Good Templars (IOGT) Iceland, Iceland

Mrs Ida Oleanna Hagen, Secretary General
FORUT, Solidaritetsaksjon for utvikling, Norway

Ms Maisha Hutton, Executive Director
Healthy Caribbean Coalition, Barbados

Tomomi Imanari, Chairperson
Non-Profit Corporation ASK, Japan

Mr Alagie B Janneh, President/National Coordinator
International Organisation of Good Templars (IOGT) Gambia, The Gambia

Mr Mahendra Jayasinghe, Director
Healthy Lanka Alliance for Development, Sri Lanka

Michael Jensen, Team Leader
Alcohol and Society, Denmark

Mr Prabhakaran Ravi Kandiah, Director/Advisor
Foundation for Innovative Social Development (FISD), Sri Lanka

Mr Bobson Alie Kargbo, National Director
IOGT – Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone

Ms Irma Kilim, Head of Drug Policy
IOGT-NTO, Sweden

Mrs A.Kodees, President
Thiruvalluvar Community Center, Sri Lanka

Ms Sophia Komba, Executive Director
Centre Against Gender Based Violence, Tanzania

Mr Matej Košir, Director
Institute for Research and Development “Utrip”, Slovenia

Mr Samuel Kumwanje, Programme Coordinator
NCD Alliance Malawi, Malawi
Dr Helen Lasimbang, Chairwoman
Apam-Sabah, Malaysia

Mr Frank Lindemann, Officer for Alcohol Policy and International Affairs
Guttempler in Deutschland e.V., Germany

Ms Blanca Amalia Llorente, Research Director
Fundación Anáas, Colombia

Mr Lusanth, Director
Nethra Community Development Foundation, Sri Lanka

Ms Natalia Maciejczyk, President
IOGT Poland, Poland

Dr. Norman Maldonado, Director
PROESA-Universidad Icesi, Colombia

Mr Chief Malema, Coordinator
Center for Mental Health Education, Counseling and Empowerment (CMHEE), Malawi

Dr Miguel Malo, Member
Cosavi, Costa Rica

Mr Kanagarathinam Mathiyalakan, Manager
Vadamaradchy Organization of Good Templars, Sri Lanka

Professor Richard Matzopoulos, Unit Director
South African Medical Research Council, South Africa

Mr Guilherme Messas, Coordinator of the Committee
Committee for Alcohol Regulation, Brazil

Dr Juha Mikkonen, Executive Director
Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention EHYT, Finland

Mr Pradip Mohanti, Director
Sarvodaya Samiti, India

Ms Kaluba Evelyn Moloka, Executive Director
Anti Alcohol and Drug Abuse Zambia, Zambia

Mrs Mphonyane Mofokeng, Founder and Director
Anti-Drug Abuse Association of Lesotho, Lesotho

Dr Justina Murray, CEO
Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, Scotland

Mr Musa, Director
Media advocacy and technologies Center, Nigeria

Mrs Maud Mwakasungula, Executive Director
Women’s Coalition Against Cancer (WOCACA), Malawi

Mr Winstone Mwale, National Coordinator
Drug Policy and Harm Reduction Platform (DPHRP), Malawi

Nkatha Mwenda, Chairperson
Graceful Youth Recovery Centre, Kenya

Ms Juliet Namukasa, Country Director
LMI International, Uganda

Dr Timothy Naimi, Director
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Canada

Ms Van Nguye, Project Officer
Research and Training Centre for Community Development, Vietnam

Ms Veronica Nkhata, Senior Programs Officer
Drug Fight Malawi, Malawi

Mr Juan Nuñez, Coordinator
Coalición México Salud-Hable, Mexico

Ms Naomi Nyalusi, Project Coordinator
Iringa Development of Youth Disabled & Children Care (IDYDC), Tanzania

Mr Joshua Oiro, Executive Director
Value Health Africa, Cameroon

Ms Carolina Piñeros Ospina, Executive Director,
Red PaPaz, Colombia

Professor Charles Parry, Director: Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Research Unit
South African Medical Research Council, South Africa

Mrs B.A.G.Chandralatha Piyaseeli, President
Success for Life Organization, Sri Lanka

Ms Monirath Prak, President
Khmer Youth Association, Cambodia

Mr Srinivasa Vara Prasad, President
AmarDeep, India

Dr Maria Luisa Marin Puig, President
Associacio Rauxa, Spain

Dr Bolormaa Purevdorj, Chair
Population Health Research Center, Mongolia

Md. Arifur Rahman, Chief Executive
YPSA, Bangladesh

Dr Leanne Ramsoomar, Public Health Researcher
South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), South Africa

Mrs Elsa Ribeiro, Social Worker
SAAP – Sociedade Anti-Alcoólica Portuguesa, Portugal

Kikome Ruth, Executive Director
Recovery Solutions Treatment and Counselling Centre, Uganda

Professor Zila Sanchez, Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine
Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil

Mr Diego Rodriguez Sendoya, Coordinator
Centro de investigación para la epidemia del tabaquismo (CIET), Uruguay

Mr Sampath De Seram, Executive Director
Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC) Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka

Dr Katherine Severi, Chief Executive
Institute of Alcohol Studies, United Kingdom

Dr Adam Sherk, Scientist
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Canada

Mr S.Kapila Kumara De Silva, Programme Coordinator
Mithuru Mithuro Movement, Sri Lanka

Ms Sanja Sisovic, Program director
CAZAS, Montenegro

Mr Marian Sperka, Vice-Chair
Movendi SK, Slovakia

Ms Kristina Sperkova, International President
Movendi International, International

Professor Tim Stockwell, Scientist
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Canada

Mr Maguette Thiandoume, Chairperson
RESOPODEV, Senegal

Mrs Sumnima Tuladhar, Executive Director
Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre (CWIN), Nepal

Dr Franklin Umenze, Chair
West African Alcohol Policy Alliance, West Africa

Ms Kate Vallance, Research Associate
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Canada

Mr Kristjan Variksoo, Chairman of the Board
Juvente Estonia, Estonia

Mr Teera Watcharapranee, Manager
Stop Drink Network, Thailand

Mr Bandula Wijesinghe, CEO
Forum for Rural Income & Environment Development Services (FRIENDS), Sri Lanka

Ms Rebecca Williams, Acting Executive Director
Alcohol Healthwatch, New Zealand

Mr Scott Wilson, CEO
Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (AADC), Australia

Mr Nelson Zakeyu, National Coordinator
Malawi Alcohol Policy Alliance, Malawi

Dr Jinhui Zhao, Senior Data Analyst
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Canada

Mr Tungamirai Zimonte, Executive Director
Youth against Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (YADD), Zimbabwe

Mx Ronie Zuze, Executive Director
Intersex Community of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

Ms Gianna Gayle Amul, Secretary
Asia Pacific Alcohol Policy Alliance, Singapore

Benjamin Anabila, Director
Institute of Leadership and Development (INSLA), Ghana

Mr Mahame Andrew, Founder and Executive Director
Youth for Development and Human Rights Advancement, Rwanda

Mr Adis Arnautovic, Director
Center for Youth Education, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Dr Lathika Athauda, Senior Lecturer
University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka

Mr Cruz Avila, Executive Director
Alcohol Justice, United States of America

Mr Bernard Basset, Président
Addictions France, France

Mr Lauri Beekmann, Executive Director
Nordic Alcohol and Drug Policy Network (NordAN), Nordic and Baltic Region

Ms Munezero Bernadette, Coordinator
Burundi Alcohol Policy Alliance, Burundi

Mrs Florence Berteletti, Secretary General
Eurocare (European Alcohol Policy Alliance), Europe

Dr Beatriz Champagne, CEO
Healthy Latin America Coalition (CLAS), South America

Wilson Chijioke, International Coordinator
Nigeria Alcohol Prevention Youth Initiative, Nigeria

Dr Nino Chikovani, Director of the Organization
Good Health and Well-Being, Georgia

Mr Phillip Chimponda, Executive Clinical Director
Serenity Harm Reduction Programme Zambia (SHARPZ), Zambia

Dr Regina Ching, Hon Secretary
Hong Kong Alliance for Advocacy Against Alcohol, Hong Kong

Ms Brenda Chitindi, Executive Director
Tobacco Free Association of Zambia, Zambia

Mr Patrick Cokola, Partnerships Officer
Maroy Foundation, DR Congo

Mr Rick Collins, President
Collins Consulting, LLC, Finland

Dr Laura Cury, Alcohol Project Coordinator
ACT Promoção da Saúde, Brazil

Mr Wim van Dalen, Executive Director
STAP, Netherlands

Mrs Aadielah Maker-Diedericks, Secretary General
South African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA), South Africa

Mr Minani Diogène, Legal Representative
Action Jeunesse contre la Drogue et la Pauvreté (AJEDROP), Burundi

Mr Anuar Djedjo, President
IOGT Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Bissau

Ms Alison Douglas, CEO
Alcohol Focus Scotland, Scotland

Mr Yong Kim Eng, President
People Center for Development and Peace, Cambodia

Dr Marcomini Franco, President
Eurocare Italia, Italy

Dr Oscar Garcia-Algar, Chair
EUFASD Alliance, Europe

Dr Sheila Gilheany, CEO
Alcohol Action Ireland, Ireland

Sir Ian Gilmore, Chair
Alcohol Health Alliance, United Kingdom

Ms Caterina Giorgi, CEO
Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), Australia

Mr Aðalsteinn Gunnarsson, General Manager
International Organisation of Good Templars (IOGT) Iceland, Iceland

Mrs Ida Oleanna Hagen, Secretary General
FORUT, Solidaritetsaksjon for utvikling, Norway

Ms Maisha Hutton, Executive Director
Healthy Caribbean Coalition, Barbados

Tomomi Imanari, Chairperson
Non-Profit Corporation ASK, Japan

Mr Alagie B Janneh, President/National Coordinator
International Organisation of Good Templars (IOGT) Gambia, The Gambia

Mr Mahendra Jayasinghe, Director
Healthy Lanka Alliance for Development, Sri Lanka

Michael Jensen, Team Leader
Alcohol and Society, Denmark

Mr Prabhakaran Ravi Kandiah, Director/Advisor
Foundation for Innovative Social Development (FISD), Sri Lanka

Mr Bobson Alie Kargbo, National Director
IOGT – Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone

Ms Irma Kilim, Head of Drug Policy
IOGT-NTO, Sweden

Mrs A.Kodees, President
Thiruvalluvar Community Center, Sri Lanka

Ms Sophia Komba, Executive Director
Centre Against Gender Based Violence, Tanzania

Mr Matej Košir, Director
Institute for Research and Development “Utrip”, Slovenia

Mr Samuel Kumwanje, Programme Coordinator
NCD Alliance Malawi, Malawi
Dr Helen Lasimbang, Chairwoman
Apam-Sabah, Malaysia

Mr Frank Lindemann, Officer for Alcohol Policy and International Affairs
Guttempler in Deutschland e.V., Germany

Ms Blanca Amalia Llorente, Research Director
Fundación Anáas, Colombia

Mr Lusanth, Director
Nethra Community Development Foundation, Sri Lanka

Ms Natalia Maciejczyk, President
IOGT Poland, Poland

Dr. Norman Maldonado, Director
PROESA-Universidad Icesi, Colombia

Mr Chief Malema, Coordinator
Center for Mental Health Education, Counseling and Empowerment (CMHEE), Malawi

Dr Miguel Malo, Member
Cosavi, Costa Rica

Mr Kanagarathinam Mathiyalakan, Manager
Vadamaradchy Organization of Good Templars, Sri Lanka

Professor Richard Matzopoulos, Unit Director
South African Medical Research Council, South Africa

Mr Guilherme Messas, Coordinator of the Committee
Committee for Alcohol Regulation, Brazil

Dr Juha Mikkonen, Executive Director
Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention EHYT, Finland

Mr Pradip Mohanti, Director
Sarvodaya Samiti, India

Ms Kaluba Evelyn Moloka, Executive Director
Anti Alcohol and Drug Abuse Zambia, Zambia

Mrs Mphonyane Mofokeng, Founder and Director
Anti-Drug Abuse Association of Lesotho, Lesotho

Dr Justina Murray, CEO
Scottish Families Affected by Alcohol and Drugs, Scotland

Mr Musa, Director
Media advocacy and technologies Center, Nigeria

Mrs Maud Mwakasungula, Executive Director
Women’s Coalition Against Cancer (WOCACA), Malawi

Mr Winstone Mwale, National Coordinator
Drug Policy and Harm Reduction Platform (DPHRP), Malawi

Nkatha Mwenda, Chairperson
Graceful Youth Recovery Centre, Kenya

Ms Juliet Namukasa, Country Director
LMI International, Uganda

Dr Timothy Naimi, Director
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Canada

Ms Van Nguye, Project Officer
Research and Training Centre for Community Development, Vietnam

Ms Veronica Nkhata, Senior Programs Officer
Drug Fight Malawi, Malawi

Mr Juan Nuñez, Coordinator
Coalición México Salud-Hable, Mexico

Ms Naomi Nyalusi, Project Coordinator
Iringa Development of Youth Disabled & Children Care (IDYDC), Tanzania

Mr Joshua Oiro, Executive Director
Value Health Africa, Cameroon

Ms Carolina Piñeros Ospina, Executive Director,
Red PaPaz, Colombia

Professor Charles Parry, Director: Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Research Unit
South African Medical Research Council, South Africa

Mrs B.A.G.Chandralatha Piyaseeli, President
Success for Life Organization, Sri Lanka

Ms Monirath Prak, President
Khmer Youth Association, Cambodia

Mr Srinivasa Vara Prasad, President
AmarDeep, India

Dr Maria Luisa Marin Puig, President
Associacio Rauxa, Spain

Dr Bolormaa Purevdorj, Chair
Population Health Research Center, Mongolia

Md. Arifur Rahman, Chief Executive
YPSA, Bangladesh

Dr Leanne Ramsoomar, Public Health Researcher
South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), South Africa

Mrs Elsa Ribeiro, Social Worker
SAAP – Sociedade Anti-Alcoólica Portuguesa, Portugal

Kikome Ruth, Executive Director
Recovery Solutions Treatment and Counselling Centre, Uganda

Professor Zila Sanchez, Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine
Universidade Federal de São Paulo, Brazil

Mr Diego Rodriguez Sendoya, Coordinator
Centro de investigación para la epidemia del tabaquismo (CIET), Uruguay

Mr Sampath De Seram, Executive Director
Alcohol and Drug Information Centre (ADIC) Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka

Dr Katherine Severi, Chief Executive
Institute of Alcohol Studies, United Kingdom

Dr Adam Sherk, Scientist
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Canada

Mr S.Kapila Kumara De Silva, Programme Coordinator
Mithuru Mithuro Movement, Sri Lanka

Ms Sanja Sisovic, Program director
CAZAS, Montenegro

Mr Marian Sperka, Vice-Chair
Movendi SK, Slovakia

Ms Kristina Sperkova, International President
Movendi International, International

Professor Tim Stockwell, Scientist
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Canada

Mr Maguette Thiandoume, Chairperson
RESOPODEV, Senegal

Mrs Sumnima Tuladhar, Executive Director
Child Workers in Nepal Concerned Centre (CWIN), Nepal

Dr Franklin Umenze, Chair
West African Alcohol Policy Alliance, West Africa

Ms Kate Vallance, Research Associate
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Canada

Mr Kristjan Variksoo, Chairman of the Board
Juvente Estonia, Estonia

Mr Teera Watcharapranee, Manager
Stop Drink Network, Thailand

Mr Bandula Wijesinghe, CEO
Forum for Rural Income & Environment Development Services (FRIENDS), Sri Lanka

Ms Rebecca Williams, Acting Executive Director
Alcohol Healthwatch, New Zealand

Mr Scott Wilson, CEO
Aboriginal Drug and Alcohol Council (AADC), Australia

Mr Nelson Zakeyu, National Coordinator
Malawi Alcohol Policy Alliance, Malawi

Dr Jinhui Zhao, Senior Data Analyst
Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, Canada

Mr Tungamirai Zimonte, Executive Director
Youth against Alcoholism and Drug Dependency (YADD), Zimbabwe

Mx Ronie Zuze, Executive Director
Intersex Community of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

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