Nurses have penned an open letter to trade ministers and government leaders warning about a range of detrimental effects on Australia’s and other nations’ health systems from a key international trade agreement.
The controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has been spruiked by the Australian Government as a pathway towards free-trade arrangements for the Asia-Pacific region. Current negotiations toward the TPP involve about 12 nations including the US, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore.
However, the plan has attracted some criticism for not including China and for potentially favouring the US over other countries.
The ANMF, along with the NSW Nurses and Midwives' Association (NSWNMA) and Australian College of Midwives, has this week added its voice to those criticising the deal, arguing that the TPP will probably result in the cost of medicines rising and delayed access to generic medicines.
In an open letter, endorsed by nursing and health organisations from seven other nations, Australian nurses have warned that the TPP has the potential to hand pharmaceutical manufacturers an inappropriate level of access to government decision-making bodies.
“We cannot accept a situation where pharmaceutical manufacturers and multinationals have a say in the content of the TPP but our communities do not, where decisions about our healthcare systems are traded in the interests of profit,” the letter stated. “For these healthcare reasons alone, we call on our trade ministers and all government leaders to withdraw from the TPP negotiations until such time that the text has been released, the health impacts openly examined and the matters debated in our parliaments.”
The general secretary of the NSWNMA, Brett Holmes, said that assurances from the minister for trade, Andrew Robb, that Australia’s healthcare system would be unaffected by the TPP did not “stack up to academic rigour”.
“In Australia, nurses and midwives have a legal obligation to speak up when healthcare is being put at risk,” Holmes said. “We’re not opposed to trade, but we do oppose the profits of multinationals being put before our community’s health needs and the TPP is doing just that.”
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