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

 

With Hunters & Collectors: The Rolling Stones Announce New Auckland Date

It’s the news New Zealand has been waiting for. The Rolling Stones today confirmed the rescheduled dates and venues for both the Australian and New Zealand legs of their highly anticipated ’14 On Fire’ tour. Now, Frontier Touring is also delighted ... More>>

ALSO:

Flying Things: Conchords, Pretties Help BATS Fly Home

The launch of BATS theatre’s fundraising campaign has taken off – with a bit of help from their friends. And with friends like theirs… An event last night hosted by Te Radar at Wellington’s latest waterfront venue, Shed 6, featured Fly My Pretties and, in a dream-come-true scenario, Flight of the Conchords. More>>

ALSO:

Environment: Zoo’s Own Wētā Workshop Produces Rare Giants For Release

Following unprecedented breeding and rearing success, Auckland Zoo is today releasing 150 of New Zealand’s largest giant wētā, the wētā punga, onto pest-free Motuora Island in the Hauraki Gulf. A further 150 will be released onto Tiritiri Matangi next month. More>>

Girls On Film: Divergent Hits The Big Screen

n January, Catching Fire (the second film in the Hunger Games series) not only became the biggest US box office success of 2013 : it also became the first film starring a female actor (ie. Jennifer Lawrence) to top the annual domestic earnings chart since The Exorcist, 40 years ago. More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: No Travel Sanctions For Russian Billionaire’s Superyacht

On the same day that New Zealand announced travel sanctions against selected Russians, a Russian billionaire’s superyacht berthed in Wellington Harbour. More>>

ALSO:

Mental Health: UC Researchers Believe Robots Can Persuade People To Conform

A team of University of Canterbury (UC) researchers and scientists believe robots can persuade people to conform through group pressure... ``Our results showed that robots can induce conformity but to a significantly lesser degree than humans." More>>

NZ On Air: Local Content Holds Steady At 32% Of Television Schedules

Since 1989 NZ On Air has measured local free-to-air television content. The report compares the schedules of the six national free-to-air channels, to observe trends and changes in the local content landscape. More>>

Arts Fest: 2014 New Zealand Festival A Spectacular Celebration

The New Zealand Festival welcomed the world to Wellington over 24 days (21 Feb – 16 Mar) of arts events across the city. “[current figures show] slight increase on the 110,000 tickets issued in 2012. It’s a great result.” More>>

Opera: Happy 70th Birthday Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Our first lady of song who “feels more like at 15 year old” will celebrate her significant birthday on stage at Covent Garden tomorrow night (Friday morning NZT), performing in the Royal Opera House’s production of La fille du régiment (The Daughter of the Regiment) as La Duchess de Crackentorp. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
Health
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news