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Generic drugs: Govt urged not to bow to US, EU pressure


C S BHATTACHARJEE | Kolkata, July 26, 2012 20:06
Tags : sex workers conference | generic grus | Free Trade Agreement | european union | International Aids Conference |

Sex workers on Thursday requested the Indian government not to budge under the pressure of the US or European Union during the ongoing negotiation on a Free Trade Agreement with EU and continue to produce generic drugs for the sake of the world.

Andrew Hunter, President of Global Network of Sex Workers’ Projects (NSWP), said, “If we want to live in a world that is fair we cannot allow rich governments and corporations to hijack the global health system. We need to keep India as the pharmacy of the world. We need India to stand up to the EU and the US and keep us alive.”

Sex Workers movement in India got a shot on Thursday when Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Samiti (MKSS), led by social activist Aruna Roy, lend unflinching support to their struggle. Nikhil Dey from MKSS and noted social campaigner Baba Adav addressed the Freedom Festival and supported their call for the Rights.

The International Aids Conference Hub, which is being tagged as ‘Sex Workers Freedom Festival, adopted an 11-point ‘Kolkata Platform of Action’ Charter centrally focused on “De-criminalise Sex Work, accept sex work as work and Right to Self-Organization and self-determination.”

Announcing the Charter, Dr Smarajit Jana, Chairman of the Global Hub, said, “Demand for these Rights are necessary precondition to an effective HIV response spearheaded by sex-workers worldwide.”

Bhagyalakhshmi, president of the All India Network of Sex Workers (AINSW) said, “These freedoms allow us to meaningfully participate in the fight to end AIDS.”

Addressing a press meet Thursday, the leaders of the International Aids Conference Hub that if India accepts the conditions of the EU or US, not only the HIV patients, but also the poor patients of other diseases like cancer or diabetes across the globe will have no option but to die being untreated.

Talking to media on this, Hunter said, “India respects and honors it's commitment to the right to health and maintain key provisions that are established in law to manufacture and legally export generic drugs under global trade rules. Governments have the right to manufacture drugs to protect the health of their citizens. In fact Indian government has legal obligation to realize the right to health of their citizens too.”

Citing example from Thailand, he said, “Thailand has managed to build a universal health system where healthcare is available free for every single person. They do this by using Thai and Indian generics, through issuing legal compulsory licenses, not just on HIV drugs but on other expensive drugs like cancer treatments.”

Supporting the call Pherister Wamboi of Kenya said that this agreement has Intellectual Property Enforcement provisions and deliberately designed to delay the entry of affordable generic medicines.

“Medicines will be blocked at the European ports and not reach the patients in Africa and the rest of the world,” she said.

Accepting that Kenyan medication system is largely dependent on Indian generic drugs, which are cheaper and effective, she said end of production of these medicines will spell deaths, not only for thousands of sex workers, but also for poor patients of various diseases.”

Ms Daisy from Uganda echoed similar concern and said, “Not only the poor people of the poor nations, but also the poor people of rich countries will be directly affected and will be forced to die.”

Global networks of the sex workers and several NGOs and voluntary groups have already waged a war against this. Shailly Gupta, Policy Advocacy Officer of ‘Medicines Sans Frontiers’ said, “We are in touch of several MPs and people at the government level. At one hand, Government says it will not bow down, but on the other hand relaxes rules and norms for the foreign companies and leading Indian companies to dire economic crisis.”

Jai Prakash from Delhi Network of Positive People which helps the poor people with medicines in their need said that India only exports 3 per cent of its produced medicines and yet the biggest exporter of generic medicines. It is so India is referred as the ‘Pharmacy of the World’. This helps millions of millions people to survive. This can not be curbed. I wrote to Prime Minister on this issue but no positive development has happened till date.”

Andrew Hunter and Dr Smarajit Jana stressed the need to develop this in a larger movement for the sake of the people of the world.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017