A lot of this will have parallels with the European/US “trade deal” the TTIP. This article specifically address the Pacific version, the TTPA, as this is the one that could effect my community.
The TPPA is opposed by
- The World Medical Association
- The World Federation of Public Health Associations
- The NZ Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS, senior doctors’ union)
- The NZ Nurses Organisation (nurses union) and
- Multiple professors of public health policy. (1)
- The Australian Medical Association (2)
Médecins Sans Frontières (3)
Consumer, Oxfam and Greenpeace (4)
The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement is a “trade deal” with ominous implications for health.
Some of the most concerning implications would be the ability of corporations to sue governments, health boards, schools etc for what they see as anticompetitive practices eg buying a cheaper medicines, banning soft drinks in schools, requiring plain packaging of cigarettes, banning alcohol sponsorhip in sport. The TPPA also proposes significantly longer patents on medications.(5)
Even if the legal arguements are spurious a wealthy multinational corporation and its lawyers could bankrupt a school or a small country like New Zealand with legal costs, or just fatally slow any public health measure.
Health Professionals have a Duty to Advocate for Public Health
eg From the ACEM curriculum for emergency medicine specialists: “a FACEM will be able to use their expertise and influence to protect and advance the health and well-being of any individual patients, communities and populations.”(6)
But What About the Benefits?
The US Department of Argiculture estimates the best case for New Zealand from lowered tarrifs is an increase GDP of 0.01%.(7) The real benefits are likely to be a lot less. Not worth the risk.
Why would our policiticans support the TPPA if is potentially harmful?
A generous answer is that they want to maintain a strong Western alliance against the threat of Chinese economic power. Other answers are so that they can keep playing golf with the US president, and of course the multinational corporations have huge amounts of money to lobby politicians with meetings in exotic locations, dinner, wine and promises of well paid jobs when they retire.
What you can do
Educate yourself eg read the references below.
Financially support the legal challenge to the secrecy of the TPPA documents. https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/tppnosecrecy
Join Doctors for Healthy Trade https://www.facebook.com/DrHealthyTrade?ref=ts&fref=ts
Support / encourgage your union to advocate for public health.
Email your minister of health and local member of parliament and professionally express your concerns.
Stay uptodate with protest action eg https://www.facebook.com/groups/TPPActionGroup/?fref=ts
Join a protest:
I’m the guy in the red scrubs.
Who knows if it will work, but sitting on the couch won’t stop this menace.
Dr Chris Cresswell
Emergency Physician and Whanganui Branch President ASMS
1 Freeman et al. Call for transparency in new generation trade deal. Lancet. 2015 Feb 14;385(9968):604-5 http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2815%2960233-1/fulltext?rss%3Dyes
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