Letter to Dutch cabinet: Support ‘Covid-19 pool’

Yesterday, Wemos sent a letter on behalf of 38 civil society organisations, political youth organisations and 20 public health experts to Minister Van Rijn (Medical Care), Minister Kaag (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) and Minister Wiebes (Economic Affairs and Climate) with the call to support the worldwide ‘Covid-19 pool’. The organisations call for free sharing of knowledge, data and intellectual property around Covid-19.

Call to The Netherlands: support Costa Rica’s proposal

Last week, Costa Rica sent a letter to Dr. Tedros, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). It has requested WHO to create a global pool for data, knowledge and technologies that can be of use in the prevention, detection and treatment of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Dutch organisations call on the Dutch government to actively support the Costa Rica proposal.

A Covid-19 pool would enable accelerated production of the required Covid-19 technologies. In addition, it would meet the global need for affordable products – a relevant issue, now that Covid-19 is affecting more and more countries with limited financial resources and often weak health systems.

Ella Weggen (Wemos): “Several governments have already found that holding on to rights, data and knowledge for the production of resources in the fight against Covid-19, will not lead to the desired result. Think of the example of Roche, who is willing to share the recipe for liquid material for corona tests after great public and political pressure.”

Chile, Israel, Canada  and Germany have already indicated that they will use compulsory licenses to lift the exclusivity of patents, if necessary. A Covid-19 pool would increase the chances for everyone in the world to access appropriate treatments.

WHO is positive, so will the rest follow?

In a first reaction, Dr. Tedros is positive about Costa Rica’s proposal. Now other countries should follow. In recent years, and on the international level, the Netherlands has worked for better, fair access to affordable medicines. The government can now use this strong position in international discussions to support such a pool and include the rest of Europe in these discussion. This way, the Covid-19 pool can become a reality.

Tom Buis (Wemos): “The Netherlands can now show solidarity with all affected countries and commit to realising a Covid-19 pool. This is a good first step to maximise resource production and minimise financial pressures on healthcare systems worldwide. ”

The civil society organisations, political youth organisations and academia behind the letter hope that their support will give the Netherlands the final push to live up to its solid reputation in the field of access to medicines.

Read the letter to Minister van Rijn (Medical Care). The letter has also been sent to Minister Kaag (Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation) and Minister Wiebes (Economic Affairs and Climate).

Parliamentary questions to Minister Van Rijn

Pia Dijkstra (D66) has asked Minister Van Rijn written questions about the Covid-19 pool. Dijkstra also links the questions to any public investments that are currently taking place on a large scale. We are curious about Minister van Rijn’s answers.

signatories to the letters

Organisations (in alphabetical order)

  • Aidsfonds
  • Alzheimer Nederland
  • Amref Flying Doctors
  • Doctors Without Borders
  • Commons Network
  • Cordaid
  • Dance4Life
  • DeGoedeZaak
  • Diabetes Fonds
  • Health Action International
  • The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations – the Netherlands (IFMSA-NL)
  • Jonge Democraten (JD) – Young Democrats of political party D66
  • JS – Young Socialists in the PvdA (Labour Party)
  • KIT Royal Tropical Institute
  • KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation
  • Maag Lever Darm Stichting
  • Medicines Law & Policy
  • Médecins du Monde
  • Nederlandse Cystic Fibrosis Stichting (Dutch Cystic Fibrosis Foundation)
  • NVTG
  • Netherlands Patients Federation
  • Open State Foundation
  • Oxfam Novib
  • Pharmaceutical Accountability Foundation
  • PerspectieF, Young Christian Union
  • Dutch Red Cross
  • RNW Media
  • Rood, Youth Organisation of the Socialist Party (SP)
  • Rutgers
  • Samenwerkende Gezondheidsfondsen
  • Save the Children Nederland
  • SGP-jongeren – SGP Youth (Reformed Political Party Youth)
  • SIDN Fund
  • SOMO – Centre for Research on Multinational Cooperations
  • Terre des Hommes
  • Trombosestichting Nederland
  • Universities Allied For Essential Medicines The Netherlands
  • Wemos

Individuals (in alphabetical order)

  • Wilbert Bannenberg (Public Health Consultant)
  • Dr. Dick Bijl (Former general practitioner epidemiologist and medicine expert)
  • Dr. Stans van Egmond (Director Trombosestichting Nederland)
  • Drs. Barend Gerretsen (Head of training institute for International Health Care and Tropical Medicine)
  • Prof. Dr. Martin Peter Grobusch (Professor of Tropical Medicine, University of Amsterdam)
  • Drs. Efraim Hart (AIOS International Health & Tropical Medicine, Board ChristenUnie Amsterdam)
  • Dr. Ellen ‘t Hoen (Lawyer)
  • Prof Dr Hans V Hogerzeil (Professor in Global Health, University Medical Centre Groningen)
  • Jake Mathewson (Epidemiologist)
  • Prof. dr. Jim van Os (Psychiatry, UMC Utrecht)
  • Dr. Katrina Perehudoff (Post-doctoral researcher, University of Toronto & Ghent University)
  • Prof. dr. Jan Hendrik Richardus (Professor Infectious Diseases and Public Health, Erasmus Medical Centre)
  • Prof. dr. Joost Ruitenberg (Emeritus professor International Public Health, VU University Amsterdam, NL)
  • Drs. Victoria von Salmuth (AIOS International Health & Tropical Medicine, Executive Committee Universities Allied for Essential Medicines)
  • Dr. Jennifer Sellin (Assistant Prof. International & European Law, Maastricht University)
  • Prof. dr. J. Jelle Stekelenburg (Professor University Medical Centre Groningen)
  • Prof. mr. Brigit C.A. Toebes (Professor of Health Law in an International Perspective, University of Groningen)
  • Prof.dr. Carin Uyl-de Groot (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • Prof. dr. Koos Van der Velden (Public health, Radboud UMC)
  • Dr. Koen Verhoef (Patent specialist, Dutch Cancer Institute)

Photo: Jukka Niittymaa via Pixabay


Recent News items

The Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation policy document does not sufficiently address access to healthcare for poorer people

14-07-2022

The new policy paper of Minister Schreinemacher of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, “Doen waar Nederland goed in is (“Doing what the Netherlands is good at”), is very much focused on Dutch business interests and seems to have insufficient attention for realising access to health care for poorer population groups. The Minister indicates that she wants to invest more in public-private collaborations in low- and middle-income countries, also in healthcare. As a result, there is a great risk that healthcare will become more commercial and therefore unaffordable for people with fewer financial resources. To provide good healthcare, the Minister should, instead, contribute to strengthening the capacity and financial resources in the public sector. 

Continue reading

What are best practices to address brain drain of health workers?

07-07-2022

What are best (regional) practices when it comes to addressing brain drain – i.e. the emigration of skilled workers, including health workers – and what action is needed on EU level? With this open consultation, the European Commission is interested in feedback on the scale and dynamics of brain drain, and in successful practices and regional strategies and policies to tackle the emigration of qualified workers. Wemos has provided input to the consultation. We recommend, for example, that EU Member States use existing instruments to implement policies and strategies based on evidence, to strengthen their health workforce.

Continue reading