News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 


Doctors and nurses warn Prime Minister over trade talks

Doctors and nurses warn Prime Minister over trade talks

Media release: Te Ohu Rata O Aotearoa (Maori Medical Practitioners Association) and the New Zealand Nurses Organisation.

3 March 2013

More than 400 members of New Zealand’s medical community have signed a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to be vigilant that our future health is not negotiated away under the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).

The letter, written by Christchurch paediatrician Philip Pattemore, was digitally signed online by 415 health professionals, mainly doctors and nurses. The letter expresses concerns over whether the TPPA could have a significant impact on New Zealanders’ future health and, in particular, the Government’s stated goal of achieving a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.

The health professionals urge the Prime Minister and his Government to insist on strong protections for public health in all 29 chapters of the Agreement, including those dealing with investments and intellectual property.

“The negotiations are held in secret, so we cannot be sure how much pressure the Government is under to sacrifice important freedoms. For example, patent extensions and data exclusivity might benefit foreign investors of each signatory nation, but it could stifle PHARMAC’s and Medsafe’s ability to provide cheaper, subsidised generic medicines for New Zealanders who need them,” Dr Pattemore says.

Auckland oncologist and Chairperson for Te Ohu Rata O Aotearoa Dr George Laking says New Zealand’s health community needs reassurance that their efforts to reduce tobacco-related harm are not being undermined.

 “If the Agreement creates protections for big foreign corporations, such as tobacco companies, it will mean they can hamper smokefree and other health-related laws by threatening legal action. These disputes would be settled by more secret offshore arbitration.

“There is no way of knowing whether the Government might be negotiating away its democratically appointed powers, handing them to foreign investors, and in effect putting public health at risk.”

New Zealand Nurses Organisation Policy Advisor Marilyn Head says the stakes are enormous.

“PHARMAC has saved the New Zealand taxpayer $5 billion over the past 12 years and greatly increased the access we have to medicine. Giving up the fight on patents could hike up the price of medicines significantly, causing inequity in access.”

University of Auckland Professor Jane Kelsey, who monitors the negotiations, says legal challenges to Australia’s plain packaging legislation show how useful Free Trade Agreements have become for the tobacco industry.

“We’ve already seen hesitance on the part of our Government over plain packaging legislation due to legal wrangling across the Tasman. Our worry is that negotiations for the TPPA, while arbitration takes place over existing trade agreements Australia has with other nations, is putting a ‘chill effect’ upon our Government when it comes to following Australia’s lead.”

 Smokefree Coalition Director Prudence Stone says the tobacco industry is responsible for the deaths of more than 5000 New Zealanders a year.

“It must not be allowed to find legitimacy in the context of international trade negotiations. Letting it do so sends a clear message that there is still working arsenal at the industry’s disposal to fight us in our battle to end tobacco use.”

The letter to Prime Minister John Key has been sent on the eve of the 16th round of TPPA negotiations which start Monday 4 March in Singapore. Negotiators are now facing pressure to narrow down outstanding disagreements.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 
Howard Davis Review: Dick Frizzell At The Solander Gallery

One of the most influential and celebrated contemporary Pop artists working in New Zealand, Dick Frizzell is mostly known for his appropriation of kitsch Kiwiana icons, which he often incorporates into cartoon-like paintings and lithographs. Not content with adhering to one particular style, he likes to adopt consciously unfashionable styles of painting, in a manner reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein. More>>

Old Music: Pop Icon Adam Ant Announces NZ Tour

Following his recent sold out North American and UK tours, Adam Ant is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the release of his landmark KINGS OF THE WILD FRONTIER album with a newly-remastered reissue (Sony Legacy) and Australasian tour. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books:
Looking Back

Writing a memoir that appeals to a broad readership is a difficult undertaking. As an experienced communicator, Lloyd Geering keeps the reader’s interest alive through ten chapters (or portholes) giving views of different aspects of his life in 20th-century New Zealand. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Purple (and Violet) Prose

This is the second recent conjoint publication by Reeve and Stapp; all to do with esoteric, arcane and obscure vocabulary – sesquipedalian, anyone – and so much more besides. Before I write further, I must stress that the book is an equal partnership between words and images and that one cannot thrive without the other. More>>

Howard Davis: Get It On, Bang A Gong, Pt I

Several readers have recently inquired about the significance of the image that accompanies my by-line. While the man-bun is long gone, I still incorporate the sound of the gong in my Kundalini Yoga classes. More>>

ALSO:

Breaking The Ice: U.S. Antarctic Icebreaker Visits New Zealand

The United States has sought, and been granted, New Zealand’s permission for a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) POLAR STAR (WAGB-10), to make a port call at Lyttelton on its way home from Antarctica sometime later this month. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: Trading Places

Greg Clydesdale, a lecturer in business at Lincoln University, has written a comprehensive account of global trade from the seventh century to modern times. More>>

Sheep: Shearing Record Smashed In Hawke’s Bay

Three shearers gathered from around New Zealand have smashed a World record by 264 sheep despite the heat, the pumiced sheep of inland Hawke’s Bay and a year’s wool weighing an average of over 3.5kg a sheep. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news