NZ leads Lancet call for trade deal transparency and health check

Friday, 13 February 2015
Erik Monasterio

Dr Erik Monasterio

New Zealand and Australian health advocates are leading an international call for public release and wide discussion of the text of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

Their call in leading international medical journal The Lancet, which will be published tomorrow, is signed by 27 health leaders in Australia, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, USA, and Vietnam, including leaders of the World Medical Association and World Federation of Public Health Associations. Leaders are pressing for the TPPA to be transparent and its broad health impacts to be assessed – before it is signed.

Co-lead author and Senior Clinical Lecturer with the University of Otago (Christchurch) Dr Erik Monasterio, says the TPPA, like other ‘new generation’ trade deals, threatens governmental ability to deliver affordable health care and legislate to protect public health and reduce health inequities.

“And all the while, the text is shrouded in secrecy,” he says.

“The negotiations are not about the way most of us think of trade – you and me buying and selling things. Instead they are protecting the massive investments profits of multinational companies that are bigger than the whole New Zealand economy. They want to make sure that countries won’t be able to pass laws or change policies, no matter how important to the local country, if that would cut profits of an overseas investor.

“It’s an unprecedented expansion of intellectual property rights that will push up the cost of affordable and life‐saving medicines, hitting hardest the already vulnerable households in New Zealand and other countries such as Vietnam and Malaysia’”, says Dr Monasterio.

The deal also threatens public health by freezing government ability to pass laws for better health. Dr Monasterio says that governments could be sued for protecting health – but governments cannot sue back.

“This will stop important health initiatives on tobacco, alcohol, the obesity epidemic, climate change, antibiotic resistance, and other major future challenges,” he adds.

“We are asking for health impact assessments, for each nation, and then their public release, so that parliaments and the public can discuss the issues– before political trade‐offs are made and the agreement is signed.”

For further information, contact:

Dr Erik Monasterio
University of Otago, Christchurch
Email orko.mem@xtra.co.nz

Dr Gay Keating
University of Otago, Wellington

Background

The call by 27 health leaders, from seven Pacific Rim nations, will be published in the Saturday 14 February 2015 print issue of The Lancet, and is available online from Friday 13 February 1pm NZDT.

Leaders are calling on their governments to publicly release the full draft TPPA text, and to secure independent and comprehensive assessments of health impacts for each nation. The assessments need to evaluate direct, indirect, short‐ and long‐term impacts of the TPPA on public health policy and regulation, publicly funded health systems, the cost of medicines, and health equity.

The text of the call is provided below at the end of this Background information.

Erik Monasterio is a consultant in forensic psychiatry and senior clinical lecturer at the University of Otago Christchurch School of Medicine.

Lead signatories/co-authors are Drs Joshua Freeman (Auckland), Gay Keating (Wellington), Erik Monasterio (Christchurch), Pat Neuwelt (Auckland), and Deborah Gleeson (Melbourne)

Full list of signatories

New Zealand

  • Robert Beaglehole, Emeritus Professor, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Ruth Bonita ONZM, Emeritus Professor, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Marion Guy, President, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Kerri Nuku, Kaiwhakahaere, New Zealand Nurses Organisation, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Philip Pattemore, Associate Professor of Paediatrics, University of Otago Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Papaarangi Reid, Tumuaki (Associate Dean – Māori), Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Jean Simpson, President, Public Health Association of New Zealand
  • Boyd Swinburn, Professor of Population Nutrition and Global Health, Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand; Alfred Deakin Professor and Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
  • Alistair Woodward, Professor of Epidemiology and Former Head of School of Population Health, Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Joshua Freeman, Honorary academic, Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Gay Keating, Eru Pōmare Māori Health Research Centre, Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine & Health Sciences, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand
  • Erik Monasterio, Consultant in Forensic Psychiatry, Senior Clinical Lecturer, Christchurch School of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • Pat Neuwelt, Senior Lecturer, Health Systems, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Australia

  • Fran Baum, Matthew Flinders Distinguished Professor of Public Health and Director of the Southgate Institute of Health, Society and Equity, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia
  • Sharon Friel, Professor of health equity and Director of the Regulatory Institutions Network (RegNet), The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • Mike Daube AO, Professor of Health Policy, Curtin University, Perth, Australia
  • Michael Moore, CEO, Public Health Association of Australia; Vice President/President Elect World Federation of Public Health Associations; Adjunct Professor, University of Canberra, Australia
  • Deborah Gleeson, Lecturer, School of Psychology and Public Health, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Canada, Chile, Malaysia, USA, Vietnam

  • Le Vu Ahn, President, Vietnam Public Health Association, Vietnam
  • Amir Attaran, Canada Research Chair in Law, Population Health and Global Development Policy, Faculties of Law and Medicine, University of Ottawa, Canada
  • James Chauvin, Immediate Past President, World Federation of Public Health Associations; Independent Public Health Advocate & Consultant, Québec, Canada
  • Ian Culbert, Executive Director, Canadian Public Health Association, Ottawa, Canada
  • Datuk Raj Abdul Karim, President Malaysian AIDS Council, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Ronald Labonté, Professor & Canada Research Chair, Globalization/Health Equity, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Canada
  • Fernando Muñoz Porras, Profesor Asociado, Escuela de Salud Pública Salvador Allende G., Universidad de Chile, Santiago; Presidente, Sociedad Chilena de Salubridad, Chile
  • Ellen R. Shaffer, Co-director, Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health, San Francisco, USA

WMA/WFPHA

  • James Chauvin, Immediate Past President, World Federation of Public Health Associations; Independent Public Health Advocate & Consultant, Québec, Canada
  • Michael Moore, CEO, Public Health Association of Australia; Vice President/President Elect World Federation of Public Health Associations; Adjunct Professor, University of Canberra, Australia
  • Mukesh Haikerwal AO, Chair of Council, World Medical Association

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

Electronic addresses (including email accounts, instant messaging services, or telephone accounts) published on this page are for the sole purpose of contact with the individuals concerned, in their capacity as officers, employees or students of the University of Otago, or their respective organisation. Publication of any such electronic address is not to be taken as consent to receive unsolicited commercial electronic messages by the address holder.

 

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