U.S. Trade Policy Robs Poor People Of Their Health!

 

Backed by big business, the USA is blocking proposed changes to the World Trade Organisations (WTO) rules on drug patents in advance of the vital WTO Summit in November. Changes that would mean cheaper medicines for poor people.

World Trade Organisation Rules on patents keep the price of vital medicines high in developing countries. Infectious diseases kill more that 14 million people every year, yet many would live if they could afford medicines which are priced beyond their reach.

There are demands across the world from governments, charities, churches and health bodies for the WTO to change the rules that govern patents in order to allow vital medicines to be produced and sold more cheaply. But the USA opposes this, and is pressurising developing countries to apply even more restrictive rules at national level.

Unless activists force the United States Government to give in, Big Pharma and Bush's U.S. Trade Representative Bob Zoellick will derail a meaningful declaration on access to life saving drugs and the WTO patent rules before the Qatar meeting.

PROTEST DEADLY US TRADE POLICY ON PATENTS AND AIDS DRUGS

After three years of campaigning, the countries of the world are finally ready to relax the monopolistic policies that keep AIDS drugs out of the hands of millions.

Only one nation is still insisting that patents and profits are more valuable than the lives of the poor.

Days before a WTO meeting where US trade officials will again ransom millions of lives for drug company profits, US Trade Representative Bob Zoellick will speak at the Philadelphia summit of the Corporate Council on Africa.

WE DEMAND:

1. Poor countries must have the option of exempting crucial drugs
from the patent system all together.

2. Whenever patent protection on a drug is blocking access, there
must be easy, straightforward mechanisms for overriding patent
protection.

3. Countries must have the right to expedite compulsory licensing of
medications without fear of retaliation from the US or any other
government.

4. Countries must have the leeway to grant compulsory licensing to
manufacturers in other countries (compulsory licensing for export).

5. The existing public health provisions in the WTO "TRIPS
Agreement" must guide the reading of the entire Agreement.


Please SIGN ONTO THE GLOBAL PETITION >>>

Eight Thousand people die EVERY DAY by AIDS. Demand AIDS DRUGS FOR ALL.
http://www.globaltreatmentaccess.org/unclesam.html

Third World Network, Health Gap Coalition, Oxfam International and others are campaigning to cut the cost of vital medicines in poor countries. This petition is part of these campaigns - it calls on the US government to stop blocking changes and clarifications to WTO rules on drug patents and to demonstrate its commitment to putting people before the profits of powerful drug companies at the World Trade Organisation meeting in Qatar this November.

 

Congressional Alert
NOVEMBER 2001

Oppose attempts to sneak through a bill on fast track trade authority. Fast Track trade authority gives the President sweeping powers to negotiate trade agreements, meaning Congress gets only a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote once the Bush Administration has decided all the details. The Bush Administration has continued to push harmful positions in FTAA, WTO and other trade negotiations that would continue to block greater access to HIV/AIDS medication, and fast track is a rubber-stamping of their willingness to write off the lives of people with HIV worldwide. see more >>>

 

The event scheduled for Sunday, September 30 (details below) has been cancelled. The IMF/World Bank meetings, as well as the large September 30 rally and march our event was scheduled to feed into, have been cancelled; leaving little reason to hold our event at this specific and difficult time.

As a member of the Health GAP Coalition and ACT UP Philadelphia, I wish to express our sorrow for the events of last week and thank our coalition partners -- AFL-CIO, Africa Action, Jobs with Justice, Oxfam and the Student Global AIDS Campaign -- for working together to host what would have been a powerful and important contribution to Global Justice Week and our struggles for greater access to HIV/AIDS medication worldwide.

Many of our members feel that it is important to encourage reflection and dialogue in the weeks and months to come, and to reaffirm our commitment to our fellow activists, to people with HIV in the United States and worldwide, and to struggles for economic and social change that seek to make our world more just and secure.

ACT UP Philadelphia will be participating in the Interfaith Service in Washington DC on Saturday, September 29; here are details on that event:

Interfaith Service of Commitment to Restoration and Justicein the Global Economy

Saturday, September 29, 2001

7:45 pm musical prelude
8:30 pm service
10 pm solemn candlelight procession

St. Aloysius Church
North Capitol and I Streets, NW
Washington DC
located near the Union Station metro

On September 11, 2001 unconscionable acts of terrorism brought searing pain to communities across the United States. People watched in horror and sadness as the terrible aftermath of these acts unfolded. We looked for ways to help and witnessed an outpouring of compassion and solidarity from within and beyond our borders. We are mourning the loss of loved ones and friends and of strangers as well. No one escaped unscathed. We seek and support actions to enact justice for this terrorism justice that is not vengeance or the destruction of more innocents.

In keeping with this tragic reality, demonstrations scheduled for the weekend of the World Bank and IMF annual meetings in Washington D.C. have been canceled. It seems even more urgent, however, for us to come together in prayer, for the restoration we seek of justice in the global economy is an essential prerequisite to peace.

The terrible events we have witnessed in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania should lead us to reflect on who we are as a people and how we are in the world. A period of national introspection may help us retrieve a measure of hope out of the havoc and begin to transform our relationships with other peoples and nations. Perhaps now is the time to ask ìWhy?î and to address the roots of entrenched anti-U.S. sentiment around the world.

We must not allow to fester on our planet the pools of rage and despair that breed terrorism. These pools will only be drained, the despair ended, by a sense of planetary community, by an outpouring of compassion and solidarity.

Powerful witness has been given to our belief in the value of each human life, the importance of family and community and the common good. We watched extremely important symbols of power and wealth crumble and fortunes go up in smoke, but our full attention was on saving lives not symbols and on helping each other. Status, rank and income level disappeared as did race and religion and political differences. In the chaos, everyone was equal and equally important.

Can we build upon that miracle as we begin again to breathe? Can it transform our way of being as a society and as a nation in the global community? Can we commit ourselves to the emergence of a planetary community where the violence of poverty and exclusion is eradicated along with the violence of terrorism?

That will be our prayer. Please join us.For additional information, please contact the Religious Working Group on the World Bank and IMF at 202-832-1780.

 

When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murders and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall.
Think of it, ALWAYS
.
--Mahatma Gandhi

------------------------------------------------------

Information on the event which has been cancelled:

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30
WASHINGTON DC:
FIGHTING GLOBAL AIDS

UNITE FOR A DAY OF EDUCATION AND ACTION TO END THE AIDS CRISIS

EVERY DAY, THERE ARE 8OOO DEATHS FROM AIDS WORLDWIDE. WORLD BANK, IMF AND
U.S. TRADE POLICIES RAISE THE DEATH TOLL AND FUEL THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS.
WE WILL NOT BE SILENT WHILE OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS DIE.

SPONSORED BY ACT UP PHILADELPHIA, AFL CIO, AFRICA ACTION, HEALTH GAP COALITION,
JOBS WITH JUSTICE, OXFAM, AND THE STUDENT GLOBAL AIDS CAMPAIGN

 

Buses Leave Philadelphia from Broad & Walnut, 7 am SHARP!
RESERVATIONS NECESSARY; DONATION REQUESTED; FREE FOR LOW INCOME
FOR INFO: actupphilly@critpath.org; 215-731-1844;

MORNING RALLY 10:30 - 11:45 AM
MALCOLM X PARK, 16TH AND FLORIDA ST. NW WASHINGTON DC

The Global AIDS Rally and March will unite people with HIV from around the world, AIDS organizations, African American community activists, African immigrant community leaders, human rights advocates, union members, labor leaders and allies in our commitment to fight the growing AIDS epidemic.

We will join in testimony and song, uniting in our call for an end to policies of global apartheid that increasingly impact the lives of people of color, whether U.S. citizens, immigrants, or people in poor or developing nations.

We will gather together from the communities most heavily impacted by HIV in the United States and worldwide. We will focus on the role of government policies, corporate practices, and debt and trade agreements that escalate the epidemic and create obstacles to saving the lives of 35 million people infected with HIV.

HIV/AIDS MARCH 12 NOON - 1 PM
WASHINGTON DC IN THE NATIONAL MALL AREA

After the rally, you are invited to join us for a march to the Global Justice Rally at the Ellipse. We will gather at Freedom Plaza or a nearby location; for updates, call 267-475-2680 or see www.globaltreatmentaccess.org.

This will be a peaceful, short march of people with HIV, their families, loved ones, union members and community activists. We welcome families and people with disabilities to join us.

These events are part of the Global Justice week from September 25 - October 4, in which tens of thousands of peoplewill gather in Washington DC and in their communities to demand changes in the policies of the World Bank, IMF,and other institutions whose actions prioritize profit over human need.

For more information on the week of actions, see
www.globalizethis.org or the Global Justice links at www.aflcio.org.

ACT UP Philadelphia
ACT UP FIGHT BACK FIGHT AIDS

_______

Background Information from the Health GAP Coalition:

Fighting for our lives
the global AIDS crisis, access to affordable HIV medication, and
anti-globalization

AIDS: MEDICAL APARTHEID

95 per cent of the world's 36 million people with HIV have no access to the HIV drugs that are available to people with HIV in the U.S. and other wealthy countries. There are 8,000 people with AIDS dying preventable deaths each day-most of them in sub Saharan Africa.

Super profitable drug companies-most of them based in the U.S.-keep the price of medications too high to be affordable for the majority of the world's people with AIDS. People with HIV who live in poor countries face a death sentence, while people with HIV who live in rich countries have a "treatable condition." When poor countries try to manufacture low-cost generic versions of overpriced AIDS drugs, the U.S. is the first government the big companies call on for help in stopping it.

The U.S. government-the richest on the planet-refuses to give more than a fraction of the $10 billion in new money needed each year to fight the greatest plague humans have experienced in modern times. In fact, the U.S. and the pharmaceutical companies fight every day for trade and economic policies that are making access to life extending drugs more difficult in poor countries.

U.S. POLICY: FANNING THE FLAMES

U.S. Policy on Global AIDS is Racist: the U.S. typically funds about 25% of the cost of UN health and development projects. When the UN announced a new $9-10 billion Global AIDS Fund-the first ever that would fund AIDS treatment in poor countries-the U.S. was eager to take all the credit for being the first donor, but refused to give more than $200 million. $200 million is nothing for the U.S. government-the Bush Administration wants a $26 billion increase in the military spending budget for 2002 but is refusing to cough up its fair share in the fight against AIDS. The Administration priorities are clear: the lives of millions of primarily Black people are simply unimportant.

and Deadly: poor countries owe billions in debt that can never be repaid to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. These international institutions lend money to poor countries with deadly strings attached: countries are forced to revamp their economies so spending on health and education disappears. These policies worsen the AIDS epidemic and cripple the ability of poor countries to fight back. The U.S. is the largest player in the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and a big believer in its deadly policies.

The U.S. also dominates the World Trade Organization (WTO) where it fights side by side with drug companies for agreements that require poor countries to re-write their patent rules and adopt strict patents on drugs, sending prices through the roof on life extending AIDS medication.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Health GAP (Global Access Project) was created only three years ago by U.S. AIDS activists who were outraged that U.S. policy was blocking medication access for people with AIDS worldwide. Health GAP fights campaigns to win access to affordable medication in poor countries, and that means confronting the U.S. politicians, drug companies, and other decision-makers responsible.

In September, Health GAP will be part of history-making protests against the IMF and World Bank. In November, Health GAP is targeting the U.S. objection to changing the WTO patent rules in favor of access to drugs in poor countries. While the federal budget is being hashed out in the Capitol this fall, Health GAP will be on hand, demanding that our lawmakers fight for full funding for the Global AIDS Fund.

Be a part of this battle for justice.

Health GAP tel: (215) 474-9329 email: jdavids@critpath.org internet: www.globaltreatmentaccess.org

Julie Davids
ACT UP Philadelphia
Health GAP Coalition

c/o Critical Path AIDS Project
1233 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215-474-9329

 



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