This 28 November marked three years since the passing of Amit Sengupta, one of the founders of the People’s Health Movement, whose contribution to the global health movement is difficult to express in words. Amit was thoroughly dedicated to the idea of health for all, and he often said that achieving it also implied building a world which is more just and, importantly, more caring. Since he last called for a more caring world at the 4th People’s Health Assembly in Savar in 2018, it has not yet become reality, but people all around the world continue to be driven by the idea of it.
At the end of November this year, two international organisations were supposed to hold high-level meetings which could influence the course of the pandemic response in the months to come. While the World Health Assembly (WHA) began a special session to discuss the Pandemic Treaty, a new instrument to guide future pandemic responses, the World Trade Organization (WTO) was getting ready to hold the first in-person Ministerial Conference in four years.
The WHA went ahead, but the MC was cancelled at the very last minute when scientists from South Africa alerted the world about the Omicron variant. Numerous health and trade activists were still able to march through the streets of Geneva and call for the WTO to adopt a TRIPS waiver to allow equitable distribution of Covid-19 medical products, stop vaccine apartheid, and minimize the risk of new variants. We talked to Fatima Hassan from Health Justice Initiative about the significance of the TRIPS waiver. We also bring a report from the central mobilization in Geneva.
The protests were special not only because they were the first in-person action since pre-pandemic times for many, but also because they brought together different movements. This time, trade and health activists joined forces, signalling to the world that they have a lot in common.
Workers, including those in the health sector, have also ramped up their support of the TRIPS waiver. Recently, a coalition of dozens of nursing associations, as well as one of the biggest international trade union councils, have sent appeals to governments and UN agencies to act on behalf of the people of the world and suspend intellectual property rights that are obstructing access to vaccines.
All this has happened as uncertainties about Omicron have quickly spread around. To provide more clarity, we bring an explainer with Dr Satyajit Rath and we look into the new aspects of discrimination that the new variant has brought along, in our Data speaks section.
While the recently cancelled WTO Ministerial Council was supposed to discuss the TRIPS waiver, its agenda included other topics that should be taken seriously by health activists
After the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference was called off following the discovery of the Omicron variant, trade unions, civil society organizations and parties on the left ramped up actions in favor of a TRIPS waiver for Covid-19 medical products
Fatima Hassan from Health Justice Initiative talks about the TRIPS waiver proposal, vaccine apartheid, and the WTO’s role in pandemic response and recovery
Trade unions and health workers are increasing their pressure to make the small group of rich countries blocking the TRIPS waiver proposal back off
Natalie Rhodes of the People's Health Movement and Priti Patnaik, Founding Editor at the Geneva Health Files, talk about the pandemic treaty of the World Health Organization, what lies ahead, and how it could address future health emergencies
Immunologist Dr. Satyajit Rath and NewClick’s Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha discuss the new variant, Omicron and the precautions necessary to stop its greater spread