7 April is the World Health Day. For the member organisations of the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles, it is a day of action. The current health context, in which we have been enmeshed for a year, remind us that this is not the time to fall into consensual celebration transmiting the idea that everybody fights for health rights for all, whether unionist or employers, whether users or rulers, whether those who defend health rights for all across the world or shareholders of pharmaceutical companies.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, health workers have undergone a very complicated situation : their working conditions have been very harsh, staff has been insufficient, infrastructures remain poor and insufficient, order and counter-orders, frequently inappropriate, have been issued by a toxic hierarchy, lack of supplies… This is the result of public health policies that have rarely cared about public health but have rather privileged the economic interests of the shareholders of pharmaceutical companies and private clinics. The richest countries have confiscated more doses than they need to vaccinate all their population : imperialism and colonialism are still present ! Israel has already vaccinated its population massively while at the same time blocking the entrance of vaccines in Palestine… We said it one year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic is not a capitalist scheme, but capitalists are responsible for their extension, its duration and its terrible consequences at a global scale. Moreover, they have taken advantage of this context to contest to adopt further restrictions on our freedoms, while the measures undertaken to protect out heath have frequently been insufficient (so that economy is not destroyed, that is, so that the benefits of the capitalists run no risks) and sometimes completely incoherent.
This notwithstanding, this year health workers have lead numerous struggles. This is reflected, first of all, in their capacity to organise and take the lead at their workplaces : it is not political commentators and company owners who have saved lives, health workers have ! All across the world, strikes and demonstrations have multiplied. Hospital workers have been on the front line, and this includes nurses and all those other women who work on it. They struggle every day to better their working conditions (schedules, staff, pay…). More broadly, civil society movements fight for health to be a universal right to which everyone is entitled. Among the demands that have been formulated, the first refers to the suspension of vaccine patents so that vaccines become part of our commons rather than commodities for a small minority to benefit ; and the second to the intervention of companies producing vaccines. These are emergency measures, but also claims that can open a path towards a society in which peoples needs are truly a priority.
The member organisations of the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles support all the initiatives that will be hold on 7 April in numerous countries. Let the works, together with the users, adopt all decisions in their sector.