Health Coalition joins 298 groups condemning “outrageous WTO failure”
By Pat Van Horne, USW member of the CHC Board of Directors
The Canadian Health Coalition has joined with 298 public health and civil society organizations from dozens of countries to condemn the European Union, Canada, the United States, Switzerland and the United Kingdom for their roles in blocking a waiver of trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) at the recent ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
In a statement released by the U.S.-based Trade Justice Education Fund, the signatories called on governments to “act in good faith outside of the WTO’s strictures” to ensure everyone has access to vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics necessary to save lives.
“The conduct of rich countries at the WTO has been utterly shameful”MAX LAWSON, CO-CHAIR OF THE PEOPLE’S VACCINE ALLIANCE
-“pledge not to use the WTO’s and other trade and investment agreements’ dispute mechanisms or other means in an attempt to stop or dissuade countries from producing, distributing or using medical technologies, or from sharing information on how to do so regardless of WTO and free-trade-agreement IP rules;
-“take every step necessary to save lives and end the pandemic, including by fully using the WTO’s existing, albeit limited flexibilities;
-“circumvent the WTO’s pharmaceutical monopoly rules when possible and outright defy those rules if necessary.”
Doctors Without Borders called the final watered-down WTO conference agreement “a devastating global failure for people’s health worldwide” because it stopped short of including tools to fight COVID-19, including treatments and tests.
“The conduct of rich countries at the WTO has been utterly shameful,” said Max Lawson, co-chair of the People’s Vaccine Alliance and head of inequality policy at Oxfam.