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LAHORE: Activists belonging to various civil society organizations held a demonstration here on Monday to seek an end to the monopoly of pharmaceutical corporations on vaccine manufacturing and urging the government to spend more on public health.

Holding placards in their hands inscribed with their demands, the activists also chanted slogans against the pharma industry for preferring profit over human lives by declining to transfer technology to the poor nations for local and affordable manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.

They called for a global strategy under the World Health Organization (WHO) to better prepare the world for feared next variants of Covid-19 and future health crises likely to hit the world because of climate change.

They demanded that life-saving vaccines and medicines should be produced under generic names to lower their prices for making them accessible to the poor peoples and advocated for at least a temporary waiver of intellectual property rights (IPR) by the World Trade Organization for all Covid-19 vaccines.

They argued that public funds were also included in the research and development of various vaccines and thus claims of IPR on them by the pharmaceutical corporations were unjustified and uncalled for.

Asher Shehzad, one of the demonstrators, said that the government should strengthen the healthcare system, promote research & development and enhance cooperation with other countries to secure public health.

Saima Zia advocated for a comprehensive pandemic preparedness plan that includes strengthening healthcare systems, early warning systems and global cooperation mechanism to help prevent future health crises and a prompt response when the need be.

The activists who joined the protest belonged to the Labour Education Foundation, Pakistan Kisan Rabita Committee, Crofter Foundation and Aman Foundation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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