Health equity in economic and trade policies

Calling for a New Global Economic Order
PHM, Wemos: Astana, November 2018

In 1978, the Alma-Ata International Conference on Primary Health Care stated, in its final declaration, that “economic and social development, based on a New International Economic Order, is of basic importance to the fullest attainment of health for all.” In Astana at the Cafe Session this video shares why this call is still relevant today and why it should be recalled and renewed now the world celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration at the Global Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, on 25-26 October. The film reminds that Primary Health Care is more than basic health care and some sort of financial protection but rather a radical comprehensive concept based on economic justice. The video calls for a new economic global order as was called for in 1978.

Can WIPO ‘move forward with the tide of history’?
Mara K: Intellectual Property Watch: 30 September 2009

At the end of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) General Assemblies, held from 25–30 September 2009, frustration at the lack of consensus was palpable, especially among developing countries calling for a legally-binding international instrument. ‘We believe our countries are being treated unfairly,’ said a delegate from Burundi during the plenary session, in reference to the fact that there is as yet no international instrument to protect traditional knowledge and genetic resources. ‘The [WIPO] Secretariat is an arbiter and should intervene,’ he added. But others questioned the legally binding instrument as an outcome. Korea suggested in plenary that ‘perhaps we can prevent misappropriation without proprietisation,” and suggested looking at options to protect traditional knowledge and genetic resources within the existing system, and several developed countries said a renewed mandate should not commit to a specific outcome. Botswana and Zimbabwe mentioned efforts through the African Regional Intellectual Property Office (ARIPO) to create a regional instrument, while Ecuador spoke of creating a national biodiversity and traditional knowledge database that would include sui generis protection measures.

Cannes Summit final declaration: Building our common future: Renewed collective action for the benefit of all
Participating members of the G20 Summit: 4 November 2011

In this final output document from the G20 Summit, held from 3-4 November in Cannes, France, the G20 outlines its decisions to ‘re-invigorate economic growth, create jobs, ensure financial stability, promote social inclusion and make globalisation serve the needs of the people’. Members at the Summit agreed on an Action plan for Growth and Jobs to address short-term vulnerabilities and strengthen medium-term foundations for growth, and promised to reform the international monetary system to make it more representative, stable and resilient. They agreed on actions and principles that are intended to help reap the benefits from financial integration and increase the resilience against volatile capital flows. This includes coherent conclusions to guide the G20 in the management of capital flows, common principles for co-operation between the International Monetary Fund and regional financial arrangements, and an action plan for local currency bond markets. Other areas in which members agreed to co-operate include: reforming the financial sector and enhancing market integrity; addressing commodity price volatility and promoting agriculture; improving energy markets and pursuing the fight against climate change; avoiding protectionism and strengthening the multilateral trading system; addressing the challenges of development by committing to ensure a more inclusive and resilient growth; fighting against corruption and reforming global governance.

Carmageddon: The hidden war between motor cars and people
Reynolds L: Critical Health Perspectives 3, June 2006

There is a silent, ongoing, global war between motor cars and people. It is silent because, though it kills many times more people than armed conflicts and terrorist acts combined, it seldom hits the headlines in the way they do. It is global because, though it started in the rich world just over a century ago, it has spread throughout the world and is now spreading like wildfire through poor countries;or poor communities within rich countries.

CBIS and ICCR urge Abbott Labs to Keep HIV/AIDS drug on the shelf in Thailand
Christian Brothers Investment Services, 22 March 2007

Christian Brothers Investment Services, Inc. (CBIS) and 15 other faith-based institutional investors with approximately $35 million in Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) holdings responded today to the pharmaceutical company's decision to withdraw new drug applications from Thailand with a request that Abbott immediately reverse its decision.

Cereal secrets: The world's largest grain traders and global agriculture
Murphy S, Burch D and Clapp J: Oxfam, August 2012

In this report, the authors consider the four biggest global agricultural commodity traders: Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill, and Louis Dreyfus, often collectively referred to as ‘the ABCD companies’. The ABCD companies are often invisible in policy debates about farmers and consumers, and they are careful about where and when they get involved in such debates, rarely seeking the limelight. The report looks at critical issues in agriculture and food security, such as the ‘financialisation’ of agricultural products, the emergence of Asian competitors to the ABCDs and the impact of the large-scale biofuel industry on food security. The authors argue that food price volatility is a problem and commodity speculation and biofuels, alongside other factors such as export bans, are helping to drive volatility. The role played by the ABCD trading firms is important, but that how to address them and limit their power is not obvious, and regulations and changes will probably need to target broader reforms. But understanding the economic and political power of the ABCDs is essential to developing policies that will protect the interests of smallholder farmers and poor consumers in developing countries, the authors conclude.

Chance for BRICs to play greater role in fighting diseases
Whiteside A and Cohen J: China Daily, 12 July 2013

For too long Africans have been dependent on aid and medicines from the West, argues the author of this article, but Brazil, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are emerging as dominant players in Africa’s health markets. In the late-1990s, Brazil played an instrumental role in shifting the paradigm of healthcare and human rights when it challenged the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and its intellectual property regime. Brazil violated a WTO clause to provide antiretroviral drugs and to lower their price. This reaffirmed medicine as a fundamental human right. While many drugs continue to be developed in the West, India has stepped in to manufacture generic medicines for the world's poorest countries. Through low-cost support and commodities, India has filled a gap in the global market. China has an increasing role to play in the global health arena. It invested $36.1 billion in 2011 in research and development, placing the country in a position to become a major player in healthcare innovation. Additionally, given the sheer scale of industry and financial resources available, China has the capacity to develop and supply HIV drugs and technologies to meet the needs of the African epidemic. The departure of traditional international funders like the United Kingdom and the United States presents an opportunity for new sources of engagement with the growing BRICS economies. Investing in the health of Africa will fuel development, enhance diplomacy and build South-South solidarity, the author argues.

Further details: /newsletter/id/38520
China and Africa: Taking stock after a decade of advances
Freemantle S and Stevens J: Standard Bank, 19 March 2012

Roughly a decade on from the launch of a new era of commercial and strategic alignment, China-Africa ties continue to mature, substantially altering the make-up of Africa’s political and economic milieu, according to this paper. The authors evaluate the current and potential scale of China’s position in Africa, and, in so doing, pose questions as to the role of Africa’s traditional Western partners in the continent’s ongoing economic progression. Bilateral trade in 2011 reached US$160 bn, up by 28% from the previous year, when China accounted for 18% of Africa’s trade (up from 10% in 2008). African exports to China increased by one-third in 2011, while Africa’s imports from China (23.7%) increased by 4%. Fluctuations in currency and domestic prices have little explanatory role in why China has undermined the position of developed nations in Africa, the authors argue. What counts is China’s foresighted engagement with Africa back at the start of the past decade, allowing Beijing to steal a march on Africa’s other partnerships. Importantly, China is well-positioned to be a significant player in Africa’s next phase of development.

China and India in Africa: Challenging the status quo?
Naidu S and Herman H: Pambazuka News, 3 September 2008

The behaviour of China and India as development partners is changing the global aid picture, most importantly in Africa. Welcomed by African governments as alternative sources of development finance to the West, they have modelled their development finance on a framework of concessional loans and aid for resource security and infrastructure reconstruction. But their development assistance remains negligible, compared to the DAC and multilateral donors, who remain Africa’s main development partners. Until fairly recently, both countries have received large Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) disbursements. Conflicting definitions of aid as co-operation or ODA, offered by the Chinese government and well positioned academic sources, reflect a lack of clarity in Chinese foreign aid policy. Trying to pigeon hole or compartmentalise aid policies in each country into neatly defined boxes proves difficult, particularly as China and India’s donor activities in Africa are often inextricably viewed together with commercial interests and investment projects.

China into Africa: Trade, aid and influence
Robert I and Rotberg R (eds): Brookings Institution Press, 2008

According to this book, the first certain trade between Africa and China may be dated from the fourteenth century, but east African city-states may have been trading with southern China even earlier. In the mid-twentieth century, Maoist China funded and educated sub-Saharan African anticolonial liberation movements and leaders, and China then assisted new sub-Saharan nations. Africa and China are now immersed in their third and most transformative era of heavy engagement, one that this book believes will promise to do more for economic growth and poverty alleviation than anything attempted by Western colonialism or international aid programs. Robert Rotberg and his Chinese, African and other colleagues discuss this important trend and specify its likely implications. Among the specific topics tackled here are China’s interest in African oil; military and security relations; the influx and goals of Chinese aid to sub-Saharan Africa; human rights issues; and China’s overall strategy in the region. China’s insatiable demand for energy and raw materials responds to sub-Saharan Africa’s relatively abundant supplies of unprocessed metals, diamonds, and gold, while offering a growing market for Africa’s agriculture and light manufactures. As the book illustrates, this evolving symbiosis could be the making of Africa, the poorest and most troubled continent, while it further powers China’s expansive economic machine.