“Today, we all mark the second consecutive World Health Day in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic. This global public health emergency underscores the need for universal access to quality public health and social care.”The World Health Organization’s slogan for this year’s World Health Day is “Building a fairer, healthier world”. Covid-19 has highlighted the sharp inequalities in our world. “Vaccine apartheid” puts this in graphic relief with billions of people in poorer countries having no hope of being vaccinated soon, except things change.
Health inequities, which reinforce social inequalities between and within countries are driven by the commodification and marketization of health and social care. Global health companies, big pharmaceutical corporations and insurance firms put their profits before the wellbeing of the people. Even now, under the pandemic they continue to make huge amounts in profit.
On #WorldHealthDay, Baba Aye gives the lowdown on why healthcare needs to be public - not privatised! More here: https://goo.gl/qf4qKQ #Health4All #OurHealthIsNot4Sale #UniversalPublicHealthCare #HealthForAll #PublicHealthcare
Public Healthcare: BETTER, CHEAPER, FAIRER, STRONGER
To build a fairer and healthier world, this must stop. We must stand as one to put health before wealth. It is morally indefensible and undeniably abhorrent for corporations to profit from the pandemic. Covid-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics must be made available, free at point of delivery, to everybody everywhere.
Therefore, more than a hundred countries have supported the call for a waiver of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) at the World Trade Organization. A few powerful countries have resisted this historic call thus far. This is not in the interest of their citizens. “No one is safe until we are all safe”. The increasing spread of more transmissible variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus could very well make nonsense of ongoing vaccination if it is not sped up concurrently across the globe.
It is the interests of corporations that are being served when governments do not support the TRIPS waiver. Years of privatisation combined with cuts in governments funding of health and social care have equally furthered the for-profit interests of business, at the detriment of a fairer and healthier world.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO Director
"The WHO believes that this is a time to waive patent rights. Those provisions are there for use in emergencies.”
Ideological claims of private sector efficiency, innovation and need for incentives have been used to back outsourcing, public private partnerships, and other forms of privatisation. We hear similar arguments today, against making the vaccines Peoples Vaccines and not, for-profit vaccines.
But the evidence shows otherwise. Tons of studies have highlighted the fact that publicly funded and delivered health and social care services do not only foster more inclusive societies. They are also more efficient and cheaper in the long run.
One of the reasons for this is that well-funded public health systems are the best suited for improving employment and working conditions in the health and social care sector. This helps ensure safe and effective staffing for health, based on decent work for the health and care worker.
2021 has been designated as the Year of the Health and Care Worker (YHCW). This is in recognition of health and care workers astonishing roles in the pandemic response and the great sacrifices they have made. At least one health worker has died from COVID-19 every 30 minutes since the pandemic started. But this did not have to be so.
Health and care workers have been overworked because facilities are understaffed. In the face of a global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) when the pandemic started, and the non-application of the precautionary principle to safeguard them, they were exposed to avoidable hazards. They did not sign up to be dead heroes. They are workers, deserving decent work as fundamental rights, and not mere applause.
In 2016, the United Nations High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth confirmed that there would be a shortage of 18 million workers needed worldwide by 2030. Low- and middle-income countries would bear the greatest burden of this shortage. Governments were urged to take steps towards remedying the situation.
Guided by the recommendations of the High-Level Commission’s report, the 70th World Health Assembly adopted the “Working for Health: Five-Year Action Plan for Health Employment and Inclusive Growth” in 2017. Governments committed to driving the plan.
But there has been a glaring lack of political will. Few countries took any concrete step to address this worrisome situation which exacerbated the impact of the pandemic on health and care workers as well as populations at large.
The case for a People's Vaccine
Waiving patents on essential medicines and supplies
from across the world are backing the call
in public funding spent developing vaccines
of vaccines have gone to low income countries
There is a common thread which ties together the lack of concrete commitment to improving employment and working conditions, privatisation of health and care services and cuts in public funding, the catastrophic lack of pandemic preparedness, and the current vaccine apartheid. It is the hollowing out of public funding and delivery of health and social care, in favour of for-profit interests.
World leaders must say never again will profit come first. Trade unions, civil society organisations, faith-based organisations, community-based associations – we, the people in all our ramifications, must seize the time to demand a global rebirth from the ashes of the pandemic.
As global leaders unite in urgent call for international pandemic treaty we seize this opportunity to remind them of our stand at the beginning of the pandemic: “crisis preparedness requires improved public funding of health”. This has to be part of a renewed vision for prioritizing what has meaning for the immense majority of the population and Mother Earth. As Pope Francis stressed in his Easter message, continued military spending during the pandemic is “scandalous”. The record increase of billionaires and centibillionaires as a handful of superrich profit from the pandemic while job losses skyrocket is outrageous.
Another world is possible. We must build a fairer and healthier world by taking decisive steps towards universal public healthcare and the development of policies and programmes that put people and the planet over profit NOW!