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Balancing private profits and public health

public health

David Heindel of International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) appeals for vaccine patent waiver

In a poignant appeal, the Chair for Seafarers lobbied for governments to waive vaccine patents in spite of the latter’s role in incentivising drug makers. However, one cannot argue against Heindel’s takes on moral grounds.

The dollars and sense battle
For Heindel, Day of the Seafarer means nothing unless something concrete is done for seafarers’ benefit. On a prominent post in ITF’s website, Heindel wrote, “there is little point contemplating what a fair future looks like for the world’s seafarers while injustices of the present so loudly demand our attention and action.” Stressing a seafarer’s job as perpetually centred around sacrifice and hard work, those at sea remain invisible in the face of pressing issues.

Seafarers are in dire need of vaccinations just to get around. Unfortunately, various governments’ precautionary measures to contain COVID-19 only worsened the crew’s plight due to vaccine shortages. Granting seafarers’ vaccines is akin to issuing them a new passport enabling smooth voyages. It is also a prelude to permanent green lanes at ports for their transits. Though seafarers’ access to vaccines are gradually gaining traction, it can be quicker with priority given to those working beyond their contractual durations.

Heindel petitioned for governments’ support towards the vaccine patent waiver. The Council of Foreign Relations noted a debate about balancing private profits and public health. Many experts and activists contend that World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) rules on intellectual property (IP) limit poor countries’ access to critical medicines. Others argue the IP rules are needed to incentivise drugmakers. Countries are now discussing whether to suspend the WTO rules amidst the pandemic.

Heindel emphasised by supporting the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) waiver, it is an opportunity for governments and flag states to prove they are not concentrated on profits. “Vaccinations are our passport to return to some degree of normality. Vaccinations are the way we restore our rights. Let’s get on with it, so that we can all be part of the conversation about what a fairer future looks like,” he highlighted.


Crewing Online News Team
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