International health community rejects move to revive TPP

tppPETALING JAYA: The international health community has in an open letter to the trade ministers from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement signatory countries meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam, called on them to reject any move to revive the TPP.

The open letter is signed by the World Federation of Public Health Organisations and leading health organisations from most of the non-US participating countries whose governments are leading moves to resurrect the deal at their meeting in Hanoi on May 20 after the US’ withdrawal.

The health organisations reiterated the concerns they had previously raised regarding the negative impacts of the agreement on people’s right to health, access to affordable medicines, and the ability of governments to regulate health-damaging activities of corporations.

“The provisions for biologic medicines included in the TPP at the behest of the US pharmaceutical industry will reduce access to treatments for cancer and other serious health conditions in the Asia-Pacific Region,” said Dr Deborah Gleeson, spokesperson for the Public Health Association of Australia.

She said since the US had withdrawn from the deal, these harmful and unnecessary rules should be removed.

New Zealand Public Health Association president Louise Delany urged the parties “to ensure that health, social and environmental objectives are central to any new agreement”.

Shiba Phurailatpam of the Asia Pacific Network of People living with HIV and AIDS (APN+), meanwhile, said: “We are shocked that the TPPA, which raised grave health and human rights concerns, remains on the agenda of 11 of the original negotiating countries, even after the US has pulled out of it.”

She said APN+ members in Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Japan would be among the first to face the consequences of this “disastrous” trade agreement on their health and lives.

The letter called on the parties to the agreement to instead enter into an open and forward-looking dialogue with the health policy community to find a new balance that recognises the legitimate trade interests of countries, while fully protecting the ability of sovereign governments to adopt policies and regulations for health.

“Unless the damaging provisions can be removed and comprehensive public health safeguards can be included, we strongly believe the TPP should be rejected,” the letter stated.