Bulletin #15: Bad habits

This fortnight  

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of scientists in South Africa, the world was alerted to the omicron variant at the end of November. For their respect of international public health guidance and transparency, most of southern Africa has been rewarded with travel bans by rich countries. The same rules did not apply to high-income countries where omicron was soon identified, shining another light on the racism that still pervades the approach of the Global North to the Global South.

A similar thing is true for the relationship between countries like France and their overseas territories which are, in a very colonial manner, used for extraction of resources while their living standards are left to plummet. In Guadeloupe and Martinique, public sector workers, including health workers, continue to protest for better access to health, education, and water, and against the French government’s bad habit to impose policies that do not reflect the needs of the local population.

In the last two weeks, health workers in Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Australia and New York City have staged protests and strikes against deteriorating working conditions, asking recognition for the work they have done before and during the pandemic.

Even though COP26 is behind us, the inter-linkages between health and climate remain on the top of many progressive activists’ agenda. The organisers of the People’s Health Hearing on health and climate justice write about the outcome of their discussions, while participants of the Latin American Association of Social Medicine and Collective Health (ALAMES) report on their hopes to rebuild a meaningful connection between people, politics, and the environment.

Differently from them, private health providers have seen the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to increase their profits. We spoke to Shakuntala Savitra and Deepali Surendra about the role of private hospitals during the pandemic in the Indian state of Maharashtra.

The next issue of People’s Health Dispatch will be published on 6 January 2022.

The many faces of travel bans

After the discovery of omicron, several rich countries blocked air traffic to southern Africa, stalling the delivery of supplies needed for the pandemic response and showing their racist bias towards the Global South

The pandemic response in Martinique and Guadeloupe: the looming shadow of colonialism

Trade unions in the Antille islands have been calling for independence in creating their public health strategies and measures

There is no health justice without climate justice

The organizers of the People’s Health Hearing at COP26 write about how celebrating the ‘right to health’ as an add-on to the Glasgow Climate Pact would be to ignore the co-option of health by perpetrators for greenwashing

Towards a solidarity-based, quality and non-commercialized health system!

Under the above slogan, the XVI Latin American Congress of Social Medicine and Collective Health and the XX International Congress of Health Policies, organized by the Latin American Association of Social Medicine and Collective Health – ALAMES, were held in the beautiful venue of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, during the third week of November 2021

Short reads

Nurses protest in Tbilisi for better pay and working conditions

Nurses in Georgia are building resistance to harmful government policies, and organized a protest in Tbilisi supported by trade unions

Health workers hang up their lab coats in protest

Health workers in Konjic, BIH, stopped working in protest against a prolonged financial crisis of key health institutions in the city

Essential healthcare workers walkout in South Australia, demand workplace safety

Over a 100 workers staged a walkout in a one-day strike action on December 14, the second to hit major hospitals in South Australia this month. Workers have complained of serious understaffing in State hospitals and unsafe work practices

Home care workers protest 24-hour work day in NYC

Workers rallied to demand unpaid wages from the United Jewish Council home care agency and an end to the 24-hour workday

Video: How private hospitals exploited the pandemic

We talk to Shakuntala Savitra and Deepali Surendra of the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Maharashtra chapter and Sathi, who have conducted a survey on the role of private hospitals during the pandemic

In case you missed it

COVID-19: South Africa Develops Own Coronavirus Vaccine | NewsClick
South Africa is grappling with the fourth wave of the coronavirus, driven by the omicron variant. The country is pushing for more vaccinations — and for its own mRNA vaccine.
COVID-19-related health care expenditure pushed over half billion people into poverty in 2020, say WHO, World Bank : Peoples Dispatch
The numbers are still rising as governments across the world have failed to create vibrant public health care systems and have left the poor and vulnerable to fend for themselves
KEI requests an open compulsory license relating to Paxlovid in the Dominican Republic - Knowledge Ecology International
On Friday, December 3, 2021, KEI requested an open public interest license to allow the exploitation of PF-07321332 (marketed in combination with ritonavir under the brand Paxlovid) in the Dominican Republic. PF-07321332, being developed by Pfizer, has shown promising results… Continue Reading →
Hospitals Are Using the Nursing Shortage to Stiff Health Care Workers
Rather than materially address the underlying issues of the nursing shortage crisis, health care providers are exploiting it in order to further consolidate power at the top of industry hierarchies — and break the power of organized labor below.
Not Omicron but greed of capital threatens the world : Peoples Dispatch
The deliberate policy of big pharma and rich countries to leave large populations in poorer countries unvaccinated could plunge the world into another downturn