The senior doctor union, the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS) has been joined by the New Zealand Medical Association in asking the government when the health impact assessment will get underway.

Ian Powell, the ASMS executive director said it wrote to Trade Minister David Parker in December to follow up on the Labour Party’s pre-election position about the deal formerly known as TPPA, which has since been renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

“Hospital specialists, along with other front-line health workers, have repeatedly expressed concern about the impact of the proposed trade deal on health care in this country,” said Ian Powell.

The free trade agreement – following the withdrawal of the United States – now involves 11 countries in the Pacific region, including New Zealand, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Singapore, and Viet Nam.

“Assessing the impact of the deal on our public health service is highly complex. The common-sense response would be to carry out an independent assessment of the health impact, and then make the results publicly available,” said Powell.

“The Labour Party was supportive of this prior to last year’s election, but we’ve yet to see any action. While in Opposition it called on the then Government to commit to an independent health impact assessment and for this to be made available before the agreement was signed.”

Dr Kate Baddock, the NZMA Chair, said it also wanted to remind David parker of his undertakings when in opposition.

“As we have said repeatedly, before this proceeds any further we need a clear understanding of the possible effects of the CPTPP on current and future policy settings and directions, to ensure that our right to achieve our legitimate public policy objectives—protection of public health, safety and the environment—is protected.

“We accept there might be financial benefits for the country, but the NZMA believes wider issues need to be considered, including affordable access to medicines, and public health policies especially around tobacco and alcohol control. To do this we must have—and make public—an independent assessment focused on these aspects.”

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