Symbolic actions taken in Liège and Brussels to denounce the commodification of health care
Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Photo from Frédéric Daerden (Twitter)
A few days ahead of the G20 World Summit on Health, which will be held in Rome on 21 May, several symbolic actions have been organised in Belgium to denounce the commodification of vaccines and health care.
In Liège, those protests took the form of a rope climb up the famous Bueren stairs. The participants then went to the Citadelle public hospital.
In Brussels, around forty people made a human chain on Tuesday evening in the rue des Minimes, between the popular Marolles district and the Brussels courthouse.
“We want an international health policy that is no longer in the hands of Big Pharma,” said Antoinette Brouyaux, representative of the Agora des Habitants de la Terre (AHT).
“Public actors tend to be the lackeys of industry, but it is up to them to take things into their own hands. To do this, we need to abolish patents on life, which distorted everything in the 1980s.”
Brouyaux referenced that research on the coronavirus conducted by universities has been “captured” by industry.
“They should only be workers in production, not decision-makers,” said Brouyaux.
“The lifting of patents on Covid-19 vaccines is temporary, partial and conditional in order to try to solve the current crisis, but it will not change anything in the long run. We need a public health policy that is no longer dependent on private actors. We want to turn things around.”
Translation: Attacking the commodification of vaccines and health care.
Speeches were given and chants were made outside the Brussels courthouse. Vice-President of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation Frédéric Daerden was present.
The master glassblower and novelist Bernard Tirtiaux read a text on 12 things that are unacceptable in today’s world.
“Health care should be a common good like water, which has now been taken over by the stock market,” Tirtiaux said.
“This is a global disaster because it will benefit rich people who don’t need it.”
The action was organised by the AHT with the support of the movements ‘Rise for Climate Belgium’ and ‘La Santé en lutte,’ among others.
In Liège, several dozen people climbed the 374 steps from the foot of the Bueren stairs to the Citadelle hospital, where Covid screenings take place. They climbed the steps in a rope line to challenge the “commodification of vaccines and health care, a global public good necessary for life.”
As in Brussels, they called for more social justice and the abolition of patents on life.
“A few days before the G20 Health Summit, which will be held on 21 May in Rome, our aim is to denounce the enrichment of the shareholders of large multinationals on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the unequal access to vaccines,” explained the associations behind the movement.
The also emphasised the need to develop public industrial initiatives in the pharmaceutical sector.
“The enrichment of the Big Pharma multinationals is unacceptable and we are here not only to denounce it, but to also denounce the unequal access to vaccines in the world,” said Catherine Schlitz, on behalf of AHT and its partners.