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

 


Senior Hospital Doctors sound warning over TPPA talks

Senior Hospital Doctors sound warning over TPPA talks

Here in NZ, we have a proud history of taxpayer funded, quality public health care.

Even if we don’t always love how our public health care system works, for most people it does...well…work. The medicines, care, surgical and other procedures that keep people as healthy as possible, get them well when they are sick, and help them live better lives, are generally available to all - regardless of income level, insurance status or location.

New Zealanders who travel to the United States, or more recently, just turn on the news and hear about Obama Care, are often shocked at the out of pocket costs that Americans can face for services, tests, prescriptions and procedures.

One of the things that stops health costs spiraling out of control here, is the tight hold that the government purchasing agency Pharmac has on the market.

The $30m plus a year that Pharmac saves through careful bulk purchasing pays for a raft of tests, medicines, health services and procedures. So anything that makes it hard for Pharmac to do its job, impacts many New Zealanders.

The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), currently under negotiation, could remove much of Pharmac’s power, and put it in the hands of international drug companies – something that should concern us all. Additionally it will limit key health strategies to address health hazards arising from tobacco and alcohol use.

New Zealand is one of twelve countries from Asia and the Pacific Rim currently negotiating the agreement, which is said to be in its ‘end game’.

Nobody really knows for sure, since the negotiations have been conducted behind closed doors, and details are sparse, beyond what has been leaked to the media. There are worrying indications that pharmaceutical companies – known for their deep pockets and high pressure tactics – may be wielding undue influence over the talks. If nothing else, it is deeply concerning that we are hearing so little about what goes on at the TPPA talks - especially given the many facets of life that could be adversely affected by their outcome.

Under another part of the TPPA, multi-national corporations could utilise investor-state settlement mechanisms to sue governments for compensation in international tribunals. Already a US drug company is seeking $500m (Canadian dollars) for alleged ‘discrimination’ against it in Canada, after it revoked patents for two drugs that were not delivering the expected results (and failed to satisfy the tests required by their domestic law).
This is hardly surprising. ‘Big Pharma’ will always behave like Big Pharma - we have to expect that. It’s their job to maximise their profits, at every opportunity. They promise their shareholders that they will do that, and they will do almost anything to achieve it. The TPPA plays into their hands. ABC news reports suggest it is designed to deal with 'behind-the-border impediments' - another phrase for national sovereignty.

Are we willing to enter into such an agreement at the expense of our national health, wellbeing and independence in such a critical area of life?

What are we willing to do to stop multi-national corporates - or anyone else, for that matter - from being given the power to put a wrecking ball through key parts of our health system?

None of us can opt out of the public health system completely, when some of our most unexpected, critical health decisions happen within it.

Dedicated doctors and nurses do their absolute best, every day, with the tools and resources at their disposal, defined by the limitations of the health budgets and policies that were debated, set, approved or simply let happen by today’s politicians and health policy makers. That should give all of us pause for thought from time to time: especially those who are shaping the health services of tomorrow.

A far off trade deal in a distant land may seem a million miles away from a GP visit, prescription, x-ray form or specialist invoice, but its impacts are closer than we all know.

Next time you see a dollar figure on a health receipt, use it as a reminder to learn a bit more, take a bit more notice of how health services are funded, and if you are so inclined, to do a bit more about the TPPA.

Demand to know more about New Zealand’s participation in the talks, so you can make up your own mind about what you think. Its impacts go way beyond healthcare - there may well be other aspects that concern you.

Write to MPs, the Trade Minister and Prime Minister and encourage them to tell all of us more about what is going on around the TPPA table. We need to give them the message that, if we sign up for it at all, let’s make this an agreement that serves New Zealanders and their health well.

Our children and grandchildren will thank us for it.

Erik Monasterio is a Consultant in Forensic Psychiatry and co-author of ‘Pharmaceutical industry behaviour and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement’, which appears in this month’s New Zealand Medical Journal. Written on behalf of the Executive of the Canterbury Hospitals Medical Staff Association.

© 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