Peter Sands took over this month as the new head of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. But before he'd even officially taken his seat at the Fund's offices in Geneva, he was under attack for a new partnership with Heineken.

In January at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the Global Fund announced it was partnering with Heineken to "fight infectious diseases in Africa. A coalition of global health organizations, however, many of whom focus on alcohol and drug abuse, called for the Global Fund to cancel the Heineken alliance.

In an open letter to Sands, who supported the deal, the health advocates said alcohol is a major risk factor for the spread of HIV and TB. They also believe that the partnership creates a conflict of interest. One part of the beer company could be working with local health ministries to improve their pharmaceutical distribution networks while another part of the company could be working against those same ministries to potentially block new alcohol control measures.

Seth Faison, head of communications at the Global Fund, said in an email to NPR that "Specifically, Heineken can provide expertise in demand-forecasting and quality control during shipment, data management and supply chain logistics," he wrote. "Bottom line, it's about getting lifesaving medicines and other health supplies where they are needed, when they are needed."

The criticism of the Global Fund/Heineken partnership, however, continues. The influential medical journal The Lancet just came out with an editorial saying Sands should scrap the Heineken alliance. The editorial says the new head of the Global Fund with this partnership is "alienating large parts of the global health community."

Read the full article about the Global Fund and Heineken partnership by Jason Beaubien at NPR.