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PRESS RELEASE by PHM Europe & the European Network In support of the European Citizen Initiative (ECI) Right2Cure

D 4 December 2020    


4 Décember 2020 - PRESS RELEASE by the People’s Health Movement (PHM) Europe & European Health Network in support of the European Citizen Initiative Right2Cure “No profits on the pandemic!!

A broad coalition of trade unions, NGOs, activist groups, students associations and health experts have launched an European Citizens’ Initiative on November 30th. Their objective is to convince the European Commission to put all measures in place to make sure that intellectual property rights, such as patents, do not limit the availability of treatments and vaccines against COVID-19. In order to do that, 1 million signatures are needed from European Citizens in one year time across at least 7 European countries.

The Right2Cure initiative brings an additional voice to the ongoing discussion about access to newly developed vaccines and treatments, marked by the concern that medical products developed for fighting the pandemic will only be available for a small part of the population due to financial and logistical barriers. If the pharmaceutical sector is allowed to act as usual, exploiting existing intellectual property rights for making a profit on this pandemic, we are concerned that the effects of the crisis will be shouldered, as always, by the poorest and the most vulnerable. Concretely the demand of the initiative is that the EU ensures the following: no profits are made by the private sector on the pandemic; all results, data, health technologies are made publicly available and controlled as paid by public funding and to treat Covid-19 solutions as a public good, patents are waived on research and technologies fighting the pandemic to ensure fast availability and lowering of prices and finally transparency on contracts with the pharmaceutical sector.

The European Network against Commercialisation and Privatisation of Health and Social Protection (European Health Network) and the People’s Health Movement (PHM) Europe are taking part in the coalition of the Right to Cure initiative in its efforts to ensure that solutions to the Covid19 pandemic are spread quickly, in a spirit of global solidarity. Everybody should have access to safe and effective vaccines and therapies, independently of their ability to pay or the place where they live. Neither patients nor public budgets for health and social security should pay for the profits of Big Pharma shareholders.

Instead of directing public funds towards private profits of Big Pharma, we ask EU institutions to use them for strengthening our health systems and improving the working conditions of health workers. The current pandemic has made it clear that health and other essential workers are the backbone of our social protection systems. No vaccine or drug will be able to resolve the current crisis on its own; to make most of them, we need to have public health systems which are adequately staffed and accessible to all.

Unfortunately, attempts to support health workers during the Covid19 pandemic in the EU have mostly been inadequate. This is true for both core and periphery EU members. Testimonies by nurses and doctors from Croatia warn that the government has failed to introduce even the most basic measures for alleviating the burden they’ve been shouldering for the past 9 months. In addition to the failure to recruit additional staff, the government has failed to consider strategies to improve working conditions in the long term, including raising health workers’ salaries to a decent level. In Belgium, health care workers have been mobilizing their colleagues and the population since 2019 to force the government to provide additional resources to improve working conditions and ensure a real access to health for all . Structural investment, wage and personnel increases are still lacking and care work remains poorly valued. These issues are further complicated by the institutional fragmentation of the country and the lack of strong and uniform policies in the health care sector. The situation has been particularly precarious in Bulgaria where, due to very low wages and unworthy working conditions and consequently high health worker migration, the whole system is being shouldered by very few nurses and doctors.

In France, even though the pandemic has underlined the negative effects of pro-commercialization policies of the last years and undermining of workers’ rights, the government remains confident that the solution lies in increasing working hours and supporting public-private partnerships. Because of this, but also because many health and essential workers remain at risk of infection and high stress, trade unions have announced actions during the weekend of 5-6 December.

The European Network and PHM Europe endorse their plans, and announce that the demand to fund the health workforce instead of Big Pharma profits will be in the spotlight of our actions on April 7, 2021, when we will mark the International Day of Action against Privatization and Commercialization of Health.

This is no time for private profiteering. Everyone has the right to a cure. The only way to overcome this pandemic, is to get hold of a collective solution, consisting of anti-pandemic vaccines and treatments freely accessible to everyone, delivered by a fully equipped, decently paid health workforce.

We call on everyone to support and sign the European Citizen Initiativehere

Link to ECI’s own press statement

European Network contact:
Sarah Derdelinckx

PHM Europe contact:
Ana Vračar


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