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PODCAST: ACCESS

Updated: Oct 8

July 2020:


Access is a special 4-part podcast series that looks at the impact of Intellectual Property (IP), specifically patents, on accessing health care, in the context of COVID-19. Each week, are joined by local and global experts to discuss and make sense of global developments that affect us locally, in South Africa. Episodes 1, 2 and 3 are now available.


Access is brought to you by the hji, is hosted by hji Head, Fatima Hassan - @_HassanF -

and is produced by Volume - https://www.volume.africa/access - in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Cape Town.


Listen on: google podcasts, apple, spotify.


LINK: https://www.volume.africa/access


In Episode 1 we discuss medicine access- and the Intellectual Property barriers that prevent developing countries from accessing life saving medicines with reference to previous successes and challenges in the AIDS access to medicines movement.  We also look at how the global patent regime can enable or block access to life saving testing, vaccines and treatment for Covid-19. In episode 1, we are joined by three long standing activists for affordable medicine access: 


  1. Dr Els Torreele, who serves in the hji's Reference Advisory Group and is a Medical Innovation and Access Activist. She is the former director of MSF's Medicine Access Campaign and writes extensively on patents and access. https://www.project-syndicate.org/columnist/els-torreele T: @ElsTorreele

  2. Tahir Amin, an IP lawyer and access activist, co-founder and co-director of I-MAK. https://www.i-mak.org/ T: @realtahiramin

  3. Prof. Gregg Gonsalves, a longstanding HIV/AIDS and medicine access activist and epidemiologist currently at Yale University, co-director of the Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) at Yale. https://law.yale.edu/ghjp @gregggonsalves


In Episode 2 we discuss COVID-19 testing access and the pricing, patent and criteria barriers that prevent South Africa from ramping up community wide testing as originally envisaged. We hear from:


  1. Dr Shuaib Manjra, who serves on the hji's Reference Advisory Group and is a physician on the front line in Cape Town. T: @ShuaibManjra

  2. Catherine Tomlinson, is a freelance health journalist covering the availability, coverage and price in South Africa of testing kits inter alia, at present, for Spotlight. https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/ T: @catherinetom

  3. Candice Sehoma, MSF South Africa's Treatment Access Advocacy Officer, and a part of the Fix the Patents Law. https://www.msf.org.za/ T: @CandisiweS


In Episode 3 we discuss the clinical, patent and political obstacles to expand treatment access in a time of COVID-19, looking also at our past struggles for access to life saving medicines. We look at the most recent clinical landscape, examine patent barriers and their impact on access, and the local and regional political context when trying to manage and treat a pandemic.


On this episode we are joined by:


  1. Dr Sithembile Mbete, a well known political commentator and analyst, and professor at the University of Pretoria. T: @sthembete

  2. Prof. Francois Venter, head of Ezintsha, Wits RHI; a Health Justice Initiative (hji) Reference Group Advisory Member; and a clinician and member of the SA Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on COVID-19. https://www.ezintsha.org/

  3. Celicia Serenata, head of Treatment Access & Optimisation at Ezintsha, Wits RHI. T: @Celicia69

  4. Umunyana Rugege, human rights lawyer and head of Section27. http://section27.org.za/ T: @umunyana_rugege


In Episode 4 (final episode) we discuss the ‘race’ to find a vaccine for COVID-19 – a vaccine that is available to everyone who needs it. Our expert guests consider global and local developments, vaccine trials, and the politics fueling what is being referred to as the COVID 19 ‘vaccine wars’ or ‘vaccine nationalism’ -which may hinder access over time.


On this final episode in the 4-part podcast series, we are joined by:


  1. Dr Linda-Gail Bekker, an hji Reference Group Advisory Member, researcher, clinician and public health advocate, COO of the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation and Director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre. T: @LindaGailBekker https://desmondtutuhealthfoundation.org.za/

  2. Priti Krishtel, a co-founder and co-director of I-MAK, and a lawyer and medicine access activist, and campaigner for justice. She is also a community organiser, and advocate for patients. T: @pritikrishtel https://www.i-mak.org/

  3. Safura Abdool-Karim, a public health lawyer, senior researcher at Priceless-SA and an Aspen New Voices 2020 Fellow. T: @AkSafs https://pricelesssa.ac.za/

  4. Lukhona Mnguni, a political analyst and commentator and PhD intern researcher at the Maurice Webb Race Relations Unit at the University of KwaZula Natal. T: @LukhonaMnguni








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