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

 
Werewolf: Katniss Joins The News Team

From the outset, the Hunger Games series has dwelt obsessively on the ways that media images infiltrate our public and personal lives... From that grim starting point, Mockingjay Part One takes the process a few stages further. There is very little of the film that does not involve the characters (a) being on screens (b) making propaganda footage to be screened and (c) reacting to what other characters have been doing on screens. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: Ko Witi Te Kaituhituhi

Witi Ihimaera, the distinguished Māori author and the first Māori to publish a book of short stories and a novel, has adopted a new genre with his latest book. But despite its subtitle, this book is a great deal more than a memoir of childhood. More>>

Werewolf: Rescuing Paul Robeson

Would it be any harder these days, for the US government to destroy the career of a famous American entertainer and disappear them from history – purely because of their political beliefs? You would hope so. In 1940, Paul Robeson – a gifted black athlete, singer, film star, Shakespearean actor and orator – was one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. More>>

ALSO:

"Not A Competition... A Quest": Chapman Tripp Theatre Award Winners

Big winners on the night were Equivocation (Promising Newcomer, Best Costume, Best Director and Production of the Year), Kiss the Fish (Best Music Composition, Outstanding New NZ Play and Best Supporting Actress), and Watch (Best Set, Best Sound Design and Outstanding Performance). More>>

ALSO:

Film Awards: The Dark Horse Scores Big

An inspirational film based on real life Gisborne speed-chess coach An inspirational film based on real life Gisborne speed-chess coach Genesis Potini, made all the right moves to take out top honours along with five other awards at the Rialto Channel New Zealand Film Awards - nicknamed The Moas. More>>

ALSO:

Theatre: Ralph McCubbin Howell Wins 2014 Bruce Mason Award

The Bruce Mason Playwriting Award was presented to Ralph McCubbin Howell at the Playmarket Accolades in Wellington on 23 November 2014. More>>

ALSO:

One Good Tern: Fairy Tern Crowned NZ Seabird Of The Year

The fairy tern and the Fiji petrel traded the lead in the poll several times. But a late surge saw it come out on top with 1882 votes. The Fiji petrel won 1801 votes, and 563 people voted for the little blue penguin. More>>

Music Awards: Lorde Reigns Supreme

Following a hugely successful year locally and internationally, Lorde has done it again taking out no less than six Tuis at the 49th annual Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news