The ANMF has joined 28 international nursing and midwifery unions representing 2.5 million members to file a complaint to the United Nations (UN) regarding blocks by countries on a waiver for COVID-19 vaccine patents.
Global Nurses United (GNU), on behalf of member organisations including the ANMF, have made an urgent appeal to investigate human rights violations by the EU, UK, Switzerland, Norway, and Singapore for blocking the waiver for COVID-19 vaccine patents.
In a letter sent to UN Special Rapporteur Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng on 29 November, Global Nurses United stated that high-income countries have accessed upwards of 7 billion doses, compared to 300 million doses for low and moderate-income countries, leading to “vaccine apartheid”.
‘This unequal distribution of vaccines is not only grossly unjust for the people in low- and moderate-income countries who remain at high risk for contracting and further transmitting COVID-19, it also provides for the possibility for the development of new variants, some of which may be resistant to the current available vaccines.’
To make more vaccines quickly and affordable, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is negotiating a temporary waiver on COVID-19 vaccines patents, known as a Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver.
However, countries including the European Union, United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, and Singapore are opposed to the waiver.
GNU have called on Dr Mofoken to conduct a mission to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and halt violations by states on the grounds of human rights violations.
‘These countries have violated our rights and the rights of our patients — and caused the loss of countless lives — of nurses and other caregivers and those we have cared for.’
‘We, who care-we bear witness. We now testify’.
In April, ANMF joined Union Aid Abroad APHEDA and the ACTU urging Scott Morrison to “put people before profit” and support the crucial public health measure to increase the manufacture and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. After holding out for months, Australia is now supporting the waiver.