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

 

Review: “Salute” By Royal New Zealand Ballet In Wellington

The Royal New Zealand Ballet performed “Salute” for a final time in Wellington on Sunday night, and it was nothing short of spectacular. More>>

ALSO:

NZ on Air: More Funding For TV Captions To Increase Access

More funding for TV captions to increase access NZ On Air has increased funding to provide more captions and audio description on television programmes for the hearing and sight impaired. More>>

Music: So Laid Back Country China Album Release

On Friday night, So Laid Back Country China held a gig at Meow for the release of their new album With Knees of Honey in Goodbye Canyon. I briefly spoke with Harriet lead vocals, keyboard) and Michael (lead vocals, guitar) before the gig More>>

Art: Wellington Region Celebrates Matariki

Eight Wellington museums and galleries have joined forces to present a major programme of exhibitions and events to celebrate Matariki 2015, the Māori New Year. The Wellington Matariki Festival will host more than 60 free events and activities between Saturday ... More>>

Wellington: TEDxWellingtonWomen Speakers Unveiled

The lineup is announced today for the highly anticipated upcoming event TEDxWellingtonWomen. Speakers include local women and men who have lived extraordinary lives and have ideas worth spreading. More>>


Books: Witi Ihimaera To Address ‘State Of NZ Literature’at Festival

6 May 2015 MEDIA RELEASE Witi Ihimaera to Address ‘State of NZ Literature’ at Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival The New Zealand Book Council has chosen the 2015 Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival as the stage for its annual address, which ... More>>

Culture: Historic Māori Portraits Travel To The Czech Republic

Image credit: Gottfried Lindauer, Wahanui Reihana Te Huatare, oil on canvas, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr H E Partridge, 1915 More>>

Art: Something Felt, Something Shared - Enjoy

Gabrielle Amodeo, Ruby Joy Eade, Clare McLean, Kalya Ward Curated by Emma Ng May 7 – 30, 2015 Opening: Wednesday May 6, 5.30pm Strange frequencies are channelled through personal narratives and poetic placeholders in Something felt, something ... More>>

Culture: Pukeahu Park ANZAC Day Commemoration 2015

Pukeahu Park ANZAC Day Commemoration 2015 Images from New Zealand Defence Force Click for big version A bugler plays The Last Post Click for big version A View from the top of the Carillion Click for big version Faces old and young Click for big ... More>>

Television: MediaWorks Announces Dancing With The Stars Hosts

MediaWorks and BBC Worldwide ANZ are delighted to announce host Dominic Bowden alongside co-host Sharyn Casey for the hit series Dancing with the Stars. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news