[Ip-health] URGENT (24h!) Action Alert on UN High-Level Meeting on Non-Communicable Diseases

Gregg Gonsalves gregg.gonsalves at gmail.com
Mon Aug 29 13:46:03 PDT 2011

Hi, everyone.
This is an URGENT appeal.  We need your help within the next 24 hours.
Donor governments and big pharma (big tobacco and big alcohol) are at
it again--trying to water down the rights to access to medicines
through weakening key IP/trade provisions protecting the public
health; excluding corporations, which sell hazardous products (e.g.
tobacco, alcohol) from regulation; and blocking targets for access to
treatment and prevention of non-communicable diseases.
People with HIV need access to antiretroviral therapy, but once we
have that, we all are susceptible to non-communicable diseases, which
also need treatment. Though I have HIV, I am more likely now to die of
cancer, heart disease or stroke than AIDS.
Thus the fight our friends working on non-communicable diseases are
waging now IS OUR FIGHT TOO!
Please, please sign on and spread the word.

UN HLM on NCDs: A threat to human rights

The UNGA Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) High-Level Meeting will take
place from 19-20 September, 2011 in New York. However, the language of
the draft Political Declaration proposed for approval by the HLM is
currently set to undermine access to medicines for millions of people,
particularly for those living in developing countries where treatments
are priced out of the reach of the majority of patients. Wide-ranging
and explicit attacks on public health efforts to ensure effective
prevention and treatment of NCDs are being led by the United States
and the European Union.  Developing countries, through the G77
position, have fought back hard on these threats which led the
negotiations to stall. But the negotiations are set to resume on
September 1, 2011 (under 72 hours from now) and end a day later on
September 2, 2011.  It is unclear whether the G77 will be able to
resist the US and EU campaign and we need to act now to stop this
assault on the human right to health.

Principal threats:
TRIPS and Doha excluded: The United States has taken a position
against including any references to TRIPS flexibilities or the Doha
Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health in the draft
political statement. The US and EU are operating in a pre-Doha mindset
and seeking to weaken the ground established by the Doha Declaration,
the WHO Revised Drug Strategy, the WHO Medicines Strategy, the WHO
Global Strategy and Plan of Action on public health, innovation and
intellectual property, the 2011 Human Rights Council resolution on the
Right to Health, the 2010 UN Resolution on Global Health and Foreign
Policy, and even the 2010 EU Council Conclusions on Global Health. In
placing intellectual property and trade policy above human rights, the
US and EU are dangerously interfering with the ability of States to
comply with their obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the
right to health and ensure access to medicines for all. With respect
to access to medicines, we also note similar concerns raised by civil
society arising in relation to attempts to weaken language affecting

Conflicts of interest and weakened role of government:  Trade, lobby
and industry groups are taking control of the agenda of the NCD HLM. A
well-organised lobbying presence by industry has resulted in the
limiting or blocking of proposals by developed countries to implement
fiscal, policy other measures to regulate the private sector. There
have also been alarming efforts to weaken the Framework Convention on
Tobacco Control by removing any references to tobacco taxation. This
flies in the face of Member States’ obligations to protect and promote
the right to health.

Lack of targets or commitment to follow up: There is an absence of any
key targets or indicators, including the goal to reduce preventable
deaths from NCDs by 25% by 2025 (as recommended by the WHO), with the
EU presenting the strongest resistance. Further, there is not even
agreement on assigning WHO the role, with the full participation of
Member States, to develop a monitoring framework for NCDs including a
set of indicators by 2012. There are also no clear commitments to a
comprehensive follow-up of the progress made on NCD prevention and
control such as a follow-up UN Summit on NCDs in 2014.

The battles we are facing today at the UN HLM are battles which have
been faced by HIV/AIDS and TB treatment activists in the past and won.
 To be sure, these issues threaten to undermine the hard fought
progress we have made on HIV/AIDS and TB treatment. Member states of
the UN cannot be allowed to roll back those long-fought and hard-won
victories, victories for which millions of patients would never see.
We need to make sure we win the battle again, not only for people
living with NCDs, increasing numbers of whom are also HIV/AIDS
patients, but for all people living in developing countries who cannot
access medicines to alleviate or cure their illnesses.

This is the time to come together to take the lessons and victories
learnt from the access to medicines movement’s work around HIV/AIDS
and apply them to the emerging NCD crisis, a crisis which is rapidly
being recognised as a major health crisis of the poor and
dispossessed.  Together we can make sure the victories to date are
protected and applied to all diseases, and that we can build on them
further to ensure access to medicines for all.

Public health organizations are drafting a petition to the UN Special
Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest
attainable standard of physical and mental health. This petition is
directed against the positions taken by the United States and the EU
in the negotiations of the UN HLM Political Declaration that will
threaten and violate the right to health of millions of people.

Can you support the petition? And mobilize like-minded organizations
to do the same?

To sign your organization’s name to the petition or for further
information, contact:

K Gopakumar, Third World Network
Email: kmgkumar at gmail.com
Tel: +91 9899976104

Sandeep Kishore, Young Professionals Chronic Disease Network
Email: sunny.kishore at gmail.com
Tel: +1 917 733 1973

Rachel Kiddell-Monroe, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines
Email: rachel.k.monroe at essentialmedicine.org
Tel: +1 514 226 7003

Krista Cox, Knowledge Ecology International
Email: krista.cox at keionline.org
Tel: +1 202 332 2670

Gregg Gonsalves
100 York Street
University Towers, 10-D
New Haven, CT 06511
Email: gregg.gonsalves at gmail.com or gregg.gonsalves at yale.edu
Mobile: +1-203-606-9149

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