Nigeria's Treatment Action Movement's statement on access to medicines and the WTO talks around paragraph 6

February 17, 2003: African Trade Ministers participating in the on-going World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations have a duty to denounce any agreement, which could threaten public health or undermine access to generic versions of essential drugs on the continent.

Making the call in a statement released to the press today, Treatment Action Movement (TAM), a coalition of Nigerian civil society actors on access to treatment and care, said the discussions at the WTO meeting hold great significance for access to healthcare in many developing countries.

“Access to essential medicines is of paramount concern to us and we believe the poorest sectors in our society need to get the lifesaving medicines. This is simply a matter of life and death. Any attempt to restrict this through the signing of restrictive agreements will be suicidal”, the movement said in a statement signed on its behalf by Mrs. Rolake Nwagwu and Ms. Olayide Akanni.

TAM, whose membership comprises of PLWHA support groups, care providers, media professionals and human rights activists also called on the Ministers to ensure that an agreement which upholds the letter and spirit of the Doha declaration - an agreement that supports the right of countries to protect public health and promote access to medicines for all - is reached.

“African countries have the right to determine what constitutes a public health problem in their own territories, and which diseases warrant waiving of intellectual property rights, particularly when the only available drugs are under patent and tend to be very expensive”, the statement said.

The movement called on African negotiators at the meeting to devise a truly workable solution that considers the following important points:

TAM specifically called on Nigeria’s Commerce Minister, Mr. Precious Ngalele and that of Health, Professor Alphonsus Nwosu to ensure that the country’s representatives at the WTO negotiations join other African ministers in ensuring that African peoples do not lose out at the meeting.

Olayide Akanni
Advocacy Officer
Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria

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