Bulletin #9: The people’s call for universal health care

This fortnight

Months of campaigns for a fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines seem to have made little impression on rich countries. Their governments still refuse to see how the hoarding of doses and dismissal of the needs of the Global South are prolonging the pandemic, in addition to endangering the health and lives of people across the globe. As vaccine boosters in high-income countries are becoming the new hype, poor countries are trying to find alternative roads to vaccines. In this issue, we look into the potential and obstacles in their way.

Formally, some rich countries have supported mechanisms that would make access to Covid-19 vaccines more equitable. After the USA, Australia has become the latest country to support the TRIPS waiver proposal submitted to the World Trade Organization. This leaves the EU, and particularly Germany, as the strongest opponent to the proposal in this forum. The People’s Health Dispatch brings an analysis of Australia’s change of heart and the ripples it might cause in the EU.

As the struggle for vaccines goes on, so do people’s initiatives for universal health care. The Nonviolent Medicaid Army held a week of action from 13 to 20 September in several States of the USA, calling for a major overhaul of the existing system. At the same time, different groups in the UK are mobilizing against the new Health and Care Bill. Both communities and health workers oppose the bill, which they see as a new attempt to privatize the National Health Service. We bring overviews of both series of actions.

In Short reads, we report on massive protests of health workers in Poland, who are pressuring the government to increase funds for healthcare and ensure adequate staffing in public health institutions.

Following the formation of a new government in Lebanon, we spoke to public health experts Aline Germani and Samer Jabbour, who shed more light on the causes of the crisis this country finds itself in. In our video interview, we bring their thoughts on life in Lebanon, and particularly on the situation in the healthcare sector.

In Data speaks, we bring an overview of the Covid-19 response and situation in the BRICS bloc.

Can poor countries succeed in vaccinating their population?

Public outcry in South Africa helped force Johnson & Johnson to retain the vaccines produced in the country for domestic use instead of being shipped to Europe. The Indian civil society has initiated a similar effort as the Global South looks for alternatives

How health activists got Australia to back patent waiver on COVID-19 vaccines

Months-long campaigning and advocacy efforts have played a large part in mobilizing public opinion in favor of a TRIPS waiver for the vaccines. Australia was among the few member-nations in the WTO to oppose the waiver

Movements in the US call to expand healthcare access

The Nonviolent Medicaid Army organized a week of action from September 13-20 to strengthen calls to expand healthcare coverage and unite organizations working on the issue

Progressive sections in UK vow to resist privatization of NHS

Trade Unions and health rights groups have said the Health and Care Bill introduced by the UK’s Tory government will end up further privatizing key areas of the National Health Service

Short reads

Polish health workers mobilize to save a dying health system

Tens of thousands of health workers in Poland are demanding the government to ensure safe staffing, better working conditions, and more funding for the public health system

Video: Lebanon's political and economic crisis hits health sector

Aline Germani, public health expert from Beirut, and Samer Jabbour, health activist in the PHM War and Conflict thematic group, describe the social, political, and economic crisis in Lebanon, the impact it has had on the health crisis, and the circumstances in which a new government has been formed.

Data speaks

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