“Life lines, not corporate bottom lines.”
With this message, militant health groups belonging to Health Alliance for Democracy and the People’s Health Movement-Philippines picketed the office of the World Health Organization to express their strong opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
The WHO Western Pacific Office has held a five-day meeting of its Regional Committee this week to set its agenda for the 2014-2015.
But the health groups believe that the WPRO should put the TPPA on the agenda as it directly impacts on the health and well-being of peoples in the region.
Dr. Edelina de la Paz, spokesperson of PHM-Philippines, said: “TPPA represents the renewed push by transnational corporations and the United States to further liberalize trade in the region while at the same time providing corporations with privileges that put their profits above public interest.”
For example, Doctor Dela Paz said the direct health impact of TPPA would be on access to life-saving, which virtually reverses any token gains made with the generics law and the cheaper medicines law.
Under TPPA, current regulations on intellectual property rights would be revised in favor of big pharmaceuticals. Provisions include ways that broaden the scope of patentability, lengthen and strengthen patent rights, expand data exclusivity, and pharmaceutical pricing, among others.
“As such, millions of people will be denied access to essential and much needed drugs,” she said Dr. de la Paz.
For the left-leaning HEAD, the TPPA represents the economic counterpart of the US political and military “pivot” in the Asia Pacific region.
It said one of the most dangerous provisions is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, which allows transnational corporations to sue governments for perceived losses of profits when such governments take certain protective measures, even if such measures are meant to protect public interest.
According to HEAD, this not only puts big business at par with governments, eroding the sovereignty of states in favor of corporate profiteering, but also directly threatens the well-being of peoples by putting a corporate stranglehold on their governments.
“Much of the provisions of the TPPA, especially those trade and investment, seek mainly to reaffirm US hegemony in the region,” Said Dr. Gene Alzona Nisperos, HEAD vice chairman.
The health groups are calling on the WHO to uphold the right to health and immediately repudiate the TPPA as an instrument that would further deny health for all.
They are also calling on all governments, including the Aquino administration, to reject the TPPA as a direct assault on the sovereignty of states.[pq]The TPPA should, therefore, be firmly and resolutely opposed as it will serve as the template for future bilateral and regional free-trade agreements.[/pq]
Doctor Nisperos concluded.