Health equity in economic and trade policies

WTO members must commit to Doha, says MSF

MSF is concerned that further proliferation of so-called 'TRIPS plus' provisions in free trade agreeements negotiated by the United States may jeopardise the progress that has been made on access to medicines. This may have enormous consequences for the health and life of millions of people, says MSF, and this is particularly so given the deadline of 1st January 2005 after which pharmaceutical product patent protection has to be provided by all non-Least Developing Country Members. MSF says in a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy that the adequate protection of public health demands that WTO Members be permitted to give full effect to the letter and spirit of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health (“Doha Declaration”) in their domestic and/or regional legislation.

Further details: /newsletter/id/30349
Health, Wealth and Welfare
Finance & Development - Quarterly magazine of the IMF

The authors explore the economics of health and development, arguing that new evidence coupled with a wider perspective suggest sizable economic returns to better health. Drawing on studies of human welfare, they say that past estimates of economic progress have been understated and that recent economic losses caused by HIV/AIDS are likewise being understated if economists rely on GDP per capita as a yardstick. A better indicator is "full income"- an assessment of economic welfare that captures both the value of changes in life expectancy and income as measured in national accounts. For Africa, they say, this new yardstick "signals catastrophe ahead".

Medicines, Patents and Trips

The agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) introduced intellectual property rules into the multilateral trading system for the first time, with profound consequences for developing countries. But the high cost of AIDS treatments has injected an ethical element into the TRIPS debate, posing new problems for the pharmaceuticals industry.

Robbing the poor to pay the rich?: how the United States keeps medicines from the world’s poorest

This paper argues that the government of the United States is contravening its commitment under the "Doha Declaration" of 2001by using technical assistance, bilateral and regional trade agreements, and the threat of trade sanctions to ratchet up patent protection in developing countries. The paper states that the U.S. is pressuring developing countries to implement patent laws which go beyond TRIPS obligations and do not take advantage of its public-health safeguards in order to benefit the influential U.S. pharmaceutical industry.

SADC on track for free trade area by 2008

The SADC region is on track towards meeting the major objective of its trade protocol which is to “achieve a Free Trade Area by 2008, when substantially all trade would be dutyfree.” Implementation of the SADC Trade Protocol and other instruments affecting the economic development of the region has shown remarkable progress in 2003, the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Prega Ramsamy said in his year-end briefing. The Trade Protocol is the most important legal instrument in the region’s quest for economic integration, and is in its third year of implementation since ratification in January 2000.

Development and international capital flows

The movement of private capital into developing economies has stalled. Moreover, the flow of private capital is often concentrated, fickle and reversible. Recent research has looked at the potential changes that could be made to the international financial system to influence private investors and lenders and increase the size, regularity and geographical spread of the flow of capital to poor countries. The expansion of private capital flows to developing countries which took place in the early 1990s has not continued. Crises in emerging markets and an increased aversion to risk on the part of investors and bankers have led to developing countries having limited access to sufficient – and sufficiently long-term – flows of private capital. The volatility of these flows to emerging markets has had a grave impact on economic development. This is according to research from the Institute of Development Studies and the University of Oxford’s Queen Elizabeth House.

Time to get serious about debt relief

Debt relief should be financed as it is more efficient than new aid, and because it reduces the burden of managing aid, argues this paper from the UN Economic Commission for Africa. The paper says that debt relief is an important source of finance for African countries but on its own will be woefully insufficient to allow African countries to finance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and achieve long-term debt sustainability. The paper also examines the rationale for further debt relief and the ways in which debt relief can be financed.

World Social Forum: Revealing the true face of neoliberalism
WSF 2004 Final Statement

"We denounce the unsustainable situation of debt in poor countries of the world, and the coercive use by governments, multinational corporations and international financial institutions. We strongly demand the total and unconditional cancellation and rejection of the illegitimate debts of the Third World. As a preliminary condition for the satisfaction of the fundamental economic, social, cultural and political rights, we also demand the restitution of the longstanding plunder of the Third World. We especially support the struggle of the African peoples and their social movements. Once again we raise our voices against the G8 Summit and the meetings of the IMF and World Bank, who bear the greatest responsibility for the plunder of entire communities. We reject the imposition of regional and bilateral free-trade agreements such as FTAA, NAFTA, CAFTA, AGOA, NEPAD, Euro-Med, AFTA and ASEAN."

Further details: /newsletter/id/30253