% of GPD for health : Thailand at the same level than… North Korea

There is currently a “debate” about the issue of breaking IP rights and compulsory licences for medecines.

The Junta did it for several drugs produced by western companies (US and french) (read my article here).

The truth is : Thailand prefers to increase its military budget (+66 % on 2 fiscal years) rather than to invest on proper healthcare for its population.

Compulsory licences, by invoking the rule of “national health emergency” from WTO, are just a proof of greediness. Just a blatant lie. Just a national shame.

Like I wrote, plavix, which is a blockbuster anti-clotting, is not a “national health emergency“.

The new government is willing to reverse this policy… Apparently. We’ll see.

(datas from WHO)

Total expenditure on health as percentage of gross domestic product (2004)


On 190 countries listed, Thailand has the rank #171 ! At the same level than North Korea.

Thailand spends 3,5 % of its GDP on health… Even Algeria and Azerbaijan are doing better… USA spend 15,4 %… France and Germany 10,5 and 10,6 %… United Kingdom at 8,1 %…

This is the best proof that this “debate” is totally biased.

Thailand is not Africa. Thailand is not third world. Thailand has the financial means to buy the drugs. But not the political will.

6 Responses to “% of GPD for health : Thailand at the same level than… North Korea”

  1. 1 Roger 19 February 2008 at 3:12 pm

    What about Canada that has issued more than 600 CL? And the US issuing compulsory licenses on car part, jet fighter part and the Blackberry?
    It is your reasoning that is fraudulent.

    Why denying Thailand what other much richer countries have been doing for years?

  2. 2 Roger 19 February 2008 at 3:17 pm

    By the way… Are you of those who talk a lot about the TRIPS buthas never read them?

    So here they are http://tinyurl.com/3csmrv

    and of particular interest is this passage:

    Each Member has the right to grant compulsory licences and the freedom to determine the grounds upon which such licences are granted.

    No need for national emergency, crisis or whatsoever… The only requirement is public non-commercial use

  3. 3 thaicrisis 19 February 2008 at 3:39 pm

    Come on Roger, don’t add insult to injury. You play with words.

    And you should read the document.

    “(c) Each Member has the right to determine what constitutes a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency, it being understood that public health crises, including those relating to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics, can represent a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency.”

    So I agree : each state can determine what constitutes a “national emergency”. That’s the legal wording.

    Now, if as a state I say that “insomnia” is a “national health emergency”. I could issue the CL. Sure. But, would it be… fair to issue CL on sleeping pills ?

    Tell me ?

    Or because my population abuse of ice cream and cao pad cai, smoke, and have therefore more coronary problems… so a CL on plavix (anti-clotting agent) is absolutly an “emergency” ? 😉

    This is laughable. 😉

    As for the issues of breaking IP rights on other… stuff. Well fair enough. I couldn’t care less. And eventually, like you said, each state can do it.

    My point is : if a state do so, then it must be ready to face the consequences. Period.

    Therefore, on a legal point of view Thailand can issue CL on plavix, absolutly, like it can increase by 66 % its military budget to 150 billions THB (against 1,8 billions saved with the CL), it make fool of itself by the way, but that’s not the point.

    On the other hand, Thailand can’t pretend anymore to be the beneficiary of some special regimes for exports for instance with lower tariffs (with the US for instance or UE).

    People need to understand this basic rule : there is a price to pay. For everything.

    In other word, and my apologies for my language : you can’t have in the same time :
    -the butter
    -the money of the butter
    -and the arse of the farmer

    This idea is very buddhist by the way. The thais should understand it. 😉

  4. 4 Roger 19 February 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Maybe we should concentrate on one thread or we are going to get lost

    As I said earlier, there is no need for a national emergency and are you qualified to determine what is an emergency?

    As a matter of fact, obesity and heart disease are a growing concern in Asia and Thailand. These diseases are very expensive to treat, but that is beyond the point.

    The point here is that Thailand is using a right it is entitled to use. You may not like it as you may not like many other rights that can be used by other people or countries in similar or different contexts (let’s say immigration rules for example) but as long as the country/people act legally, you can’t blame them.

    The other possibility is to revise the treaty.

  5. 5 thaicrisis 19 February 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Again : fair enough.

    Yes Thailand can do it (I never attacked this legal point even if my first articles last summer).

    The treaty, the part i’ve quoted is both clear and unclear. It speaks about “emergency”, with AIDS, epidemics… So okay heart diseases are gaining ground in Asia…

    But I continue to think that beyond a treaty, a legal document, there is a “spirit”. The “spirit of the law” like we say.

    And with Plavix, I think that Thailand has violated the spirit of the law.

    I believe my example with the insomnia and the sleeping pills was a good illustration of it. 😉

    And last point : the second mistake you make is by not taking in account the… wealth of Thailand.

    Again, we could make another extreme example : what if the Sultanat of Brunei… issue CL ? Because it can not afford to give proper healthcare and medications to its population ?

    This is the “spirit of the law” I was talking about.

    Africa ? Yes, everything, even insomnia, is an national emergency over there, because it’s a lost continent. Beyond poverty. And they should issue CL for everything.

    But Thailand ???? 😉

  6. 6 Roger 19 February 2008 at 4:12 pm


    Let’s talk about the spirit of the law:

    Why the US do it, then?

    Let’s talk about the wealth of the country using the TRIPS.

    Again why the US do it, then? For trivial reason such as Toyota auto part?

    But I get your main point :

    My point is : if a state do so, then it must be ready to face the consequences. Period.

    So what about the consequence for the US, Canada and European country using the TRIPS? None?

    And what are the consequence for Thailand? The Thai/US military exercise have gone on as usual, shrimps are still exported, US are re-instating their financial support to Thailand: Business as usual. It is all a smoke screen.

    And something I forgot to react to:

    As for the issues of breaking IP rights on other… stuff. Well fair enough. I couldn’t care less. And eventually, like you said, each state can do it.

    So why bother with Thailand. I am puzzled…

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Thailand Crisis

Coup, Economic slowdown, Terror In the South... The situation is worsening in Thailand. Bumpy road like often before.

But this time, it's different.

The key to understand the present turmoil is the inevitable... succession of King Bhumibol.

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