Sugar and Health: Regulation in Mexico and the Netherlands

By Tatia M. Brunings, GHLG Research Volunteer, t.m.brunings@student.rug.nl

The World Health Organization (WHO) has been a constant advocate for the promotion of taxation on sugary beverages in order to combat the rise of non-communicabe diseases (NCDs). In January 2014, the Mexican government enacted a law with a taxation rate of 10%, an increase of one peso, on sugary beverages. At the time, 32.8% of the Mexican population was obese, and the country was considered to have the largest obesity rate in the world, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization. Studies show that Mexico’s sugar tax led to a continuous decrease in consumption seen within its first two years of implementation.  This raises the question:  To what extent would it be effective to implement taxation on sugary beverages as seen in Mexico in 2014, within the Netherlands?

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Putting people’s interests first in the protection of health

Er zijn inmiddels al vele onderzoekers die samen de Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health vormen. Onder hen is prof. mr. dr. Brigit Toebes, adjunct hoogleraar Internationaal Gezondheidsrecht. Zij lichtte tijdens de Aletta Research Meet Up van 14 december jl. in haar pitch al toe welke rol haar discipline kan spelen bij het vergroten van de volksgezondheid. Lees in deze blog meer over hoe Toebes de toekomst van Aletta ziet en hoe zij met haar onderzoek bij wil dragen aan meer gezonde jaren.

Scroll down for the English version.

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Tabaksbeleggingen van het ABP op gespannen voet met het internationale standaarden

By Professor Brigit Toebes, Academic Director, Global Health Law Groningen Research Centre

Summary in English: The Dutch civil servants pension fund ABP continues to invest in the tobacco industry. This contribution looks at these investments from the perspective of international law, in particular the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and human rights law.

Nederlandse samenvatting: Het ABP heeft wereldwijd meer dan een miljard euro aan beleggingen uitstaan in de tabaksindustrie. Recentelijk is veel kritiek geuit op deze investeringen. Zo vindt de Stichting Rookpreventie Jeugd de investeringen niet ´moreel aanvaardbaar´. Ook binnen het ABP lijkt er geleidelijk meer erkenning te komen voor deze problematiek. In deze bijdrage kijk ik naar deze investeringen door de lens van het internationale recht.

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New book: The Governance of Disease Outbreaks – International Health Law: Lessons from the Ebola Crisis and Beyond

This edited volume is directed at experts in international law, practitioners in international institutions, and other experts who would like to familiarize themselves with the legal framework of infectious disease governance. Using the West African Ebola crisis of 2014 as a case study, this book is part of a larger collaborative project on international health governance.

As there is a persistent risk of the occurrence of infectious disease epidemics and pandemics, it is all the more important to frame the underlying mechanisms, legal and otherwise, to deal with such problems. The aim of the book is thus to critically contribute to the ongoing debates related to instruments such as the International Health Regulations, as well as the role of international organizations such as the World Health Organization.

Against this backdrop, the authors explain the context and substantive legal framework of the Ebola crisis, while also highlighting its human rights aspects, institutional law (such as the debate on the securitization of health) and the limits to a purely legal approach to the subject. Thus, the authors herein come from various backgrounds such as law, public health, political science and anthropology.

The book is available here.

Sugar Sugar – don’t be misled / laat je niet misleiden

By Professor Brigit Toebes, Academic Director, Global Health Law Groningen Research Centre

Summary in English:

NRC Handelsblad’s Saturday 25 November issue contains an entry of eleven pages entirely devoted to sugar. It discusses a broad range of topics related to sugar, including the role of sugar throughout the centuries, sugar consumption in the Netherlands, the amount of sugar in bread, and sugar production. Several scientists are quoted in an attempt to rebut the increasing scientific claim that sugar consumption causes overweight and obesity. A closer look at this entry shows that it is in fact an advertisement from Royal Cosun, an agro-industrial concern of the Dutch sugar beet producers. Given the neutral presentation of the entry, the reader is easily confused and misled about its content. How much leeway should the industry be given in promoting its products in a newspaper?

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Growing consensus on importance of delinkage in pharmaceutical R&D

By Ellen ‘t Hoen, Global Health Unit Department of Health Sciences, UMCG Groningen, e.f.m.t.hoen@umcg.nl

The movement to delink the cost of developing medicines from their market price received another boost this week, with the publication of a new report from the Netherlands Council for Public Health and Society, an official government advisory body.

This report is part of a recent phenomenon in which even the wealthiest of health systems have been unable to afford medicines developed under a monopoly-based pharmaceutical innovation model, and underlines a growing international consensus that better models to incentivise the creation of new medicines are needed. High priced medicines resulting from this model cause access problems and are a threat to the affordability of health care in almost all European countries. Medical professionals and patients are calling on their governments to take action.

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Part II: Gender and Health in the Context of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change

By Marlies Hesselman, University of Groningen Faculty of Law, PhD Candidate, m.m.e.hesselman@rug.nl

On  16 October 2017, GHLG member Marlies Hesselman participated in an event on new CEDAW General Recommendation 36 on Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction in a Changing Climate. This two-part post is based on Hesselman’s commentary in response to the presentation of the Draft General Recommendation by CEDAW Committee member Hilary Gbedemah. Part I of this entry discussed the intimate links between gender, health, climate and disaster risk reduction and included examples of practical challenges for women.

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