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Month: June 2021

Philippine gov’t exerts all-out effort for ‘Bangkota’ pavilion in Expo 2020 Dubai

Though the global pandemic has led to a slew of major changes in the forthcoming Expo 2020 Dubai, the construction of the Philippines’ ‘Bangkota’ pavilion remains unhampered and key plans formulated by its team prior to the emergence of COVID-19 stay on, said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

DTI Assistant Secretary for the Trade Promotions Group and PH Expo 2020 Dubai, Alternate Commissioner General Rosvi C. Gaetos said the ‘Bangkota’ is nearing its full completion rate and will soon be ready to captivate the curiosities of the world in the post-pandemic era.

“We are 97% complete with the pavilion; we’re lucky to have a very good building contractor and also a very good project management team,” said Gaetos. “By August 30th, the fully completed pavilion will be turned over to us. That’s the time we can start the technical rehearsals in preparation for the opening this October. So, we are very much ready.”

“I’m glad that with this Dubai Expo, the Philippine government has done all out, in support for budgetary and otherwise. If not for the pandemic, we would have really accomplished everything as early as last year,” she added.

Although the construction, she said, is progressing on all fronts, and in no time would be ready for the much-vaunted largest event ever to be staged in the Arab world, the process had not come easy stemming from the limitations of mobility, especially during the height of the pandemic last year when mutual isolations between countries had dawned.

While they were trying to mount the re-imagined 4,000 years story of the Philippines through the pavilion, the Assistant Secretary said the DTI also had to ‘re-imagine’ ways to supervise the mega-project remotely to ensure that the contractors were bringing to life the designs, true to the vision and ideas of the creative team.

“We were off-site when the pandemic hit; we just came back [from Dubai] to Manila. So it was a big challenge. [Nonetheless], it appears that the vision of the architect and of the government has been met. The only thing that’s missing now would be putting together the Visitors’ Journey to the exhibits. It’s actually the last piece that we are finalizing now,” she said.

“The postponement [of the Expo last year],” she added, “was also good for us because it gave us an opportunity to fine-tune many things. But everything was being done virtually because we could not travel to Dubai to inspect the pavilion onsite. It really became a test of our patience and a test of our creativity to be able to build the pavilion with us here.”

Going to many great lengths just to keep the ground running and meet what had seemed to be impossible during the extraordinary global circumstances set this enormous overseas endeavor apart from the various Philippines’ expo participations in the past, indeed.

Targets remain big as before

The DTI Assistant Secretary admitted that uncertainties had come into play resulting from the disruptions that spiraled during the pandemic.

“The biggest impact of the pandemic is the uncertainty created in our plans. We may have been successful in delivering the pavilion according to our vision and to our goals, but how sure are we that visitors will come and visit it? How sure are we that people will appreciate what we have done? Again, this is the most expensive Philippine pavilion that the government has ever undertaken. I guess that’s the biggest question mark that the pandemic brought to fore,” she related.

“The responsibility for delivering rests largely on the shoulders of the organizers, but they had assured us that the number of target visitors remains. If they can deliver that, we will be incredibly happy customers.”

With the UAE achieving milestone after milestone even amid this global crisis, however, DTI expressed confidence that the visitors target of 25 million during the six-month-long mega-event would be hit, bolstered by Dubai’s proven mantra: ‘Build it and they shall come’.

In the middle of this month, the UAE placed on top of the global rankings in terms of vaccination rate, overtaking Israel, after it administered more than 120 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine per 100 people.

Before this, the Gulf country’s major push to inoculate its nationals and residents alike had proved to be an effective booster shot in gaining the confidence of consumers across the globe. It was named the No. 1 most resilient country in the world for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East and No. 2 worldwide by the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), a non-for-profit organization representing the rights of consumers in over 100 countries.

Taking all these into consideration, the sight of Expo’s success is imminent proving the world once more the other mantra of Dubai that ‘nothing is impossible’ with a bold vision and optimism.

Originally published here.

Perlindungan Hak Kekayaan Intelektual dan Royalti untuk Pekerja Seni

Perlindungan Hak Kekayaan intelektual dan pekerja seni adalah dua hal yang sangat terkait dan tidak bisa dipisahkan. Melalui perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual, maka para pekerja seni, seperti musisi dan sineas, bisa menikmati manfaat dari karya yang telah mereka buat.

Tanpa adanya perlindungan terhadap hak kekayaan intelektual, hal tersebut tentu akan sangat merugikan para pekerja seni. Para pekerja seni tersebut berpotensi akan semakin sulit untuk mendapatkan manfaat dari karya yang mereka buat untuk menafkahi kehidupan mereka, karena setiap orang dapat bebas membajak atau menampilkan karya-karya mereka tanpa harus membayar para pekerja seni yang membuat karya tersebut.

Di era digital, perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual terhadap pekerja seni tentu memiliki tantangan baru. Seiring dengan perkembangan teknologi, setiap orang dapat dengan mudah membajak dan memasarkan produk-produk karya seni yang dibajak tersebut di dunia maya, untuk dinikmati dan disaksikan secara gratis oleh jutaan orang di seluruh dunia.

Namun, tantangan perlindungan hak kekayaan inteletual, khususnya di Indonesia, bukan hanya dari perkembangan dunia maya. Di sektor pelayanan, seperti rumah makan, kafe, karaoke, dan klub malam, kita bisa dengan mudah menemukan para pengelola tempat tersebut menampilkan musik atau lagu tertentu untuk menghibur para pengunjugnya, namun tanpa memberi bayaran kepada para musisi yang membuat berbagai lagu yang dimainkan.

Hal ini tentu merupakan sesuatu  yang perlu untuk diselesaikan. Terlebih lagi, karena yang menampilkan musik tersebut adalah tempat usaha yang bertujuan untuk mencari keuntungan.

Untuk mengatasi persoalan tersebut, pada tanggal 30 Maret 2021 lalu, Presiden Joko Widodo mengeluarkan Peraturan Pemerintah Nomor 56 Tahun 2021 tentang Pengelolaan Royalti Hak Cipta Lagu Dan/ Atau Musik. Dalam Pasal 3 ayat 1 peraturan tersebut, tertulis secara eksplisit bahwa “Setiap orang dapat melakukan penggunaan secara komersial lagu dan/atau musik dalam bentuk layanan publik yang bersifat komersial dengan membayar royalti kepada pencipta, pemegang hak cipta, dan/atau pemilik hak (cnnindonesia, 5/4/2021).

Dalam peraturan tersebut, dijelaskan secara eksplisit juga dituliskan berbagai penggunaan musik atau lagu yang diharuskan untuk membayar royalti kepada para musisi yang membuat lagu tersebut. Diantaranya adalah seminar, konser, transportasi umum, pameran, nada tunggu telepon, pertokoan, bank, dan kantor, pusat rekreasi, penyiaran televisi dan radio, serta fasilitas hotel (cnnindonesia, 5/4/2021).

Adanya peraturan tersebut tentu merupakan hal yang patut kita apresiasi. Diharapkan, dengan adanya peraturan pemerintah yang mewajibkan para pemilik usaha, seperti rumah makan, untuk membayar royalti kepada para musisi, maka kesejahteraan musisi dapat lebih terjamin, dan hak kekayaan intelektual yang mereka miliki terhadap karya yang mereka buat juga dapat semakin terjaga.

Hal ini semakin penting terutama pada saat pandemi COVID-19. Pandemi COVID-19 telah membuat industri musik di Indonesia menjerit, karena para musisi tidak bisa tampil di depan publik seperti tahun-tahun sebelumnya (voi.id, 16/7/2020).

Diharapkan, dengan adanya peraturan pemerintah tersebut, maka para musisi yang saat ini sedang mengalami kesulitan dapat terbantu,. Membuat musik, terlebih lagi yang sangat populer dan bisa dinikmati oleh banyak orang, bukanlah sesuatu yang mudah, dan dibutuhkan banyak usaha. Sudah selayaknya, para musisi tersebut bisa mendapatkan manfaat dari karya yang mereka buat.

Selain itu, argumen lain untuk membenarkan kebijakan pengelola usaha untuk memutar musik atau lagu tanpa royalti kepada para musisi adalah, tidak sedikit dari para pengelola yang memutar musik tersebut melalui media streaming yang berbayar, seperti Spotify misalnya. Karena sudah membayar layanan streaming tersebut, maka dianggap hal tersebut adalah sesuatu yang cukup sehingga pembayaran royalti adalah sesuatu yang kurang diperlukan.

Pandangan ini merupakan sesuatu yang sangat keliru. Berbagai layanan streaming tersebut secara eksplisit menyatakan bahwa layanan mereka hanya bisa digunakan untuk tujuan personal, dan bukan kegiatan usaha. Berdasarkan ketentuan dari layanan streaming Spotify misalnya, dijelaskan secara eksplisit bahwa layanan mereka hanya bisa digunakan untuk hiburan pribadi dan bukan untuk penggunaan komersial. Dengan demikian, layanan streaming ini tidak boleh digunakan secara publik di tempat usaha, seperti radio, toko, dan rumah makan (support.spotify.com, 15/4/2021).

Melalui ketentuan tersebut, maka sudah jelas bahwa ketentuan tersebut sejalan dengan peraturan pemerintah yang dikeluarkan oleh Presiden Joko Widodo pada bulan Maret lalu. Menggunakan layanan streaming untuk kepentingan komersil merupakan sesuatu yang tidak bisa dibenarkan.

Sebagai penutup, hak kekayaan intelektual, termasuk juga tentunya karya-karya seni seperti musik, merupakan hal yang patut dilindungi oleh negara. Oleh karena itu, adanya peraturan pemerintah yang bertujuan untuk menegakkan perlindungan hak kekayaan intelektual adalah sesuatu yang harus kita apresiasi, agar para pekerja seni bisa mendapat perlindungan atas karya yang mereka buat. DIharapkan, industri kreatif, termasuk juga industri musik, di Indonesia dapat semakin berkembang di masa yang akan datang.

Originally published here.

UAE and Israel’s COVID success: lessons for the EU

Now with the pandemic hopefully approaching its end, it is time for reflection and thorough analysis of emerging case studies.

Both the US and EU had hard time adjusting their health systems to the COVID-19 crisis, effectively scaling up testing early on and overcoming the pre-existing regulatory burdens. Countries such as Israel and the UAE avoided such mistakes though.

Based on the findings of the recently published Consumer Choice Center’s Pandemic Resilience Index 2021, Israel and the UAE were found to be the most pandemic resilient countries. Both countries lead the global vaccination and testing efforts. As of March 31st, 2021, the average number of daily tests conducted in the UAE was 8.29 which was almost three times higher than France, Finland, Ireland, and Portugal.

Since the start of the pandemic, testing services have been extensively available across the UAE. Using the most up to date facilities and testing systems, Abu Dhabi Health Services (SEHA) and Abu Dhabi Department of Health put in place drive through testing services to stop the spread, and testing every two weeks has been encouraged. In March 2020, a massive laboratory was built in just 14 days to scale up the testing.

The UAE has also successfully leveraged digital technologies to tackle the pandemic. Chat-bots as well as various apps were developed and introduced to mitigate the consequences of a health disaster. For example, the “Doctor for every citizen” app was made available to facilitate communication between the public and doctors.

Israel is a clear winner when it comes to the speed of vaccinations. As of March 31st, 60.64 per cent of the population of Israel received at least one dose of vaccine which is mainly the reason why Israel heads the Pandemic Resilience Index, Israel’s COVID-vaccination campaign kicked off 17 days later than that of the UK (the first country in the world to authorise Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine). For comparison, it took most EU countries more than 20 days more than the UK to do that. In the case of the Netherlands – 37 days longer.

Israel, on the other hand, has neither the highest number of ICU beds per 100k people nor a very high average number of new COVID tests per thousand people. However, the number of ventilators available per 100k people in Israel is 40, which is much higher than, for example, Poland, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Ireland.

The United Arab Emirates comes in second mainly because of its vaccination rate. As of March 31st 2021, UAE administered 84 doses of vaccines per 100 people. Regarding the start of the vaccination, the UAE took over the EU in terms of vaccination by about 10 days. The UK and the US (53 and 45 doses respectively) follow the UAE. The remainder of the countries analysed, are significantly behind.

However, no one is truly out of the pandemic unless everyone is out. Israel and UAE are the pandemic success stories but the rest of the world needs to catch up so that we can all get back to some normality. Health resilience, and in particular, the ability to foresee future crises and make the necessary precautions are crucial, and EU’s mistakes such as slow vaccine rollout and testing, have proven to be costly. Moving forward, the Union and member states need to act in a smarter way, following the example of Israel and the UAE.

Originally published here.

Propiedad intelectual, el derecho que se debate en el mundo por la liberación de patentes de las vacunas

Organizaciones internacionales rechazaron las medidas propuestas por la OMC. Si se aceptaran y aplicaran, sería contraproducente: profundizaría la crisis y debilitaría las bases de sustentación ante una futura pandemia.

El debate sobre el derecho de propiedad intelectual se puso al rojo vivo con la pretendida iniciativa de liberar las patentes de las vacunas.

Sin embargo, una acción de tal magnitud podría traer aparejado un efecto contrario al deseado ya que se vulneran los esfuerzos de empresas tras haber invertido cientos de millones de dólares en investigación y desarrollo.

Sobre este tópico, la Fundación Libertad y Progreso junto con otras 26 organizaciones internacionales rechazaron las medidas propuestas ante la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC), tendientes a anular los derechos de propiedad intelectual (DPI). El resultado de estas medidas, si se aceptaran y aplicaran, sería contraproducente: profundizaría la crisis en la que nos encontramos y debilitaría las bases de sustentación ante una futura pandemia.

Según el Global Health Innovation Center de Duke University, el mundo se encamina a producir 12.000 millones de dosis de distintas vacunas necesarias para brindar inmunidad de rebaño (70% de la población mundial). Una vejación masiva sobre los derechos de propiedad intelectual afectarán los incentivos para esta producción y futuras investigaciones para el bienestar de la humanidad.

El respeto por los derechos de propiedad intelectual es fundamental para acabar con la pandemia de la Covid-19 y reactivar la economía. La seguridad jurídica garantizará no sólo la producción, sino también el acceso a vacunas.

Libertad y Progreso suscribe a la declaración conjunta que establece los siguientes puntos:

*Los DPI son fundamentales para la producción a escala sostenible de vacunas;
*Los DPI son esenciales para la I&D para futuras pandemias;
*La competencia mundial, no la producción local forzada, será la que mantenga los precios bajos de las vacunas;
*Una suspensión de los DPI no tendrá efecto sobre la producción de vacunas sin una transferencia tecnológica forzada, la cual sería demasiado lenta, estaría llena de problemas legales y causaría mucho daño económico.

Al 20 de abril del 2021, había 217 vacunas anti-Covid (además de más de 600 tratamientos antivirales y terapéuticos) bajo desarrollo a nivel mundial. Este mercado competitivo e innovador se encuentra bajo riesgo con las iniciativas multilaterales anti-DPI. La escasez de vacunas en la Argentina y en otros países, no se hubiera producido o hubiera sido transitoria si los gobiernos respectivos hubieran actuado con diligencia.

Las organizaciones abajo firmantes, hacemos un llamado a los gobiernos para que protejan el sistema de innovación que ha suministrado múltiples vacunas y medicamentos anti-Covid en tiempo récord. De no ser así, la inversión futura para nuevos desarrollos para enfrentar las nuevas cepas de Covid-19 y futuras pandemias será menor y, por ende el costo humano será superior.

La declaración fue firmada por la   Asociación de Consumidores Libres de Costa Rica, Alternate Solutions Institute de Pakistán, Austrian Economic Centre de Austria, Bay Area Council Economic Institute de los Estados Unidos, Centro Mackenzie de Liberdade Econômica del Brasil, Center for Global Enterprise de los Estados Unidos,  Competere de Italia, Consumer Choice Centre de Bélgica, Free Market Foundation de Sudáfrica, Fundación Eléutera de Honduras, Fundación IDEA de México, Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy de Malasia, Geneva Network de Reino Unido, Imani Centre for Policy and Education de Ghana, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation de los Estados Unidos, Instituto de Ciencia Política de Colombia, Instituto de Libre Empresa del Perú, Istituto Bruno Leoni de Italia, Istituto per la Competitivà (I-Com) de Italia, KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific de Malasia Libertad y Desarrollo de Chile, Libertad y Progreso de Argentina, McDonald-Laurier Institute de Canadá, Minimal Government Thinkers de Filipinas, Paramadina Public Policy Institute de Indonesia, Prime Institute de Pakistán y Property Rights Alliance de los Estados Unidos.

Originally published here.

Ending liquor monopoly in Ontario would be win-win-win

Rethinking the LCBO could save taxpayers a tremendous amount of money

Ontario is teetering on the edge of a fiscal cliff. Under its previous Liberal government, the province became the most indebted sub-sovereign unit in the world. Unfortunately, poor policy-making and the COVID-19 pandemic have only worsened its situation. Ontario’s debt is now over $404 billion, which means each Ontarian’s share of that debt is a whopping $27,000.

As the pandemic ends, Ontario will need bold policy-making to dig itself out of the hole it’s in. One bold policy that would help is privatizing the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario), or at a minimum capping its expansion and ending its monopoly status.

Scrapping the LCBO and shifting to a private, preferably uncapped, retail model would benefit consumers by offering them more choice and convenience. Ontario currently has the worst alcohol retail density in Canada, mostly because the combination of a government monopoly (LCBO), with a government-sanctioned private monopoly (The Beer Store) has limited the scalability of retail access. As a result, Ontario has only one alcohol retail outlet for every 4,480 residents. In comparison, British Columbia has one store for every 2,741 residents, Alberta one for every 1,897 residents, and Quebec one store for every 1,047 residents. Ending the LCBO’s monopoly would help bring Ontario onto a par with other provinces.

More importantly, rethinking the LCBO could save taxpayers a tremendous amount of money. The LCBO’s operating costs are bloated. Based on its 2019 annual financial statement, the average sales, general and administrative (SG&A) cost per store is $1,515,000 per year. With 666 corporate stores, that is a considerable expense to taxpayers. Private alternatives, like high-inventory private retailers in Alberta, cost significantly less to operate. Based on Alcanna’s 2019 annual financial report, the average SG&A for a private outlet comparable to an LCBO, is just $676,000 per year. If we could snap our fingers right now and fully transition the LCBO out of the government’s operating model, taxpayers would save an astounding $559 million per year. If the Ford government is looking for low-hanging fiscal fruit, this is it.

Labour unions and other supporters of nationalized alcohol distribution would obviously have an issue with the complete elimination of the LCBO. They will argue that privatization would threaten the well-paying jobs of the thousands of Ontarians who work for the LCBO. This could be true, as it’s unlikely that private retailers would require their workers to be members of OPSEU, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which has negotiated wages well above the market rates for comparable jobs. That said, there is a compromise solution that both expands consumer choice, maintains those LCBO jobs, and saves taxpayers millions of dollars. It is to stop the LCBO from expanding its operations and let the private sector fill the void.

Each year, on average, the LCBO, makes a net addition of seven new stores in Ontario. If the province were to simply stop the LCBO’s expansion, and have the private sector fill the gap, taxpayers would cumulatively save $88 million after five years. At the 10-year mark that figure would be $323 million. And these savings are only the ongoing operational savings and don’t include the tens of millions of dollars the LCBO spends to acquire storefronts for expansion.

This compromise solution would allow the LCBO’s existing outlets to remain operational, while also allowing for more retail access and a hybrid model moving forward. On top of the cost savings, there might well be revenue gains. Hybrid and private retail models for alcohol sale (as in B.C. and Alberta) actually generate more alcohol tax revenue per capita, a further benefit for the public purse. Politically, this compromise solution is a no-brainer. Increasing access, fuelling private business opportunities, generating more revenue, and all the while maintaining current LCBO employment would be a win-win-win.

The Ford government has already laid the groundwork for such an approach. Buried in the licences and permits schedule in the 2019 budget, the province effectively cleared the way for a truly free and open alcohol market in Ontario. The bill states that “A person may apply to the Registrar for a licence to operate a retail alcohol store, operate as a wholesaler, or deliver alcohol.”

Ontario has opened the door for a consumer-friendly retail model for alcohol that would finally end the LCBO’s monopoly. Full privatization would be best but if that is too great a stretch politically, a free-entry compromise would still benefit all Ontarians. The government has created the possibility of such a change. For the sake of consumers and taxpayers, it should now follow through.

Originally published here.

Sustainability: the European word-battle

It will mean something different to everyone.

The Farm to Fork Strategy of the European Union attempts to foster sustainability in the agricultural sector. While sustainability is a laudable goal in a general sense, it has a wide range of possible meanings and applications. EU institutions have adequately defined the word. 

It is necessary to establish a clear and precise definition of what we mean by sustainability, as only this will allow us to set concrete goals and objectives and develop clear and precise metrics to track our progress in achieving them.  The implication from the European Commission seems to be that organic agriculture is essentially synonymous with sustainable agriculture. But that is a mere assumption, made without reference to a host of practical concerns and obviating any real scientific examination of the facts. 

The European Commission’s web page for sustainable agriculture lauds the improvements on sustainability made by the Common Agriculture Policy (CAP), yet it has not established a definition that matches the goals met by the policy. The Farm to Fork Strategy is a political roadmap that outlines certain numerical goals, yet the claim that these goals are sustainable is merely implied. In order for European consumers to understand the objectives of the European Union in the realm of sustainable agriculture, we need to establish definitions that concisely describe what sustainable agriculture is.

In any given webinar or even the word sustainability can be thrown meaninglessly, often supporting the speaker’s agenda. That speaker is often a supporter of agro-ecology or the food production system that rejects the advancements of modern agriculture. And that is fair game; those advocates have to have their voice in the democratic process. That said, they are often co-opting a term that has yet to be well-defined. You can take the test: stop an average consumer in the street and ask whether we should want more sustainable food. Who would possibly disagree with that? As to whether we should support sustainable food without defining what that means, is much like asking whether or not we should want “good” food. We will have different understandings of what that implies. In the organic sector, standards of sustainability would not be met.

Credible research has established that moving all current farming to organic farming would increase greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 70% . Researchers analysed the hypothetical move of Welsh and English farm production to organic, and found that reduced crop yields in organic farming increased the need to import food from overseas. Including the GHGs emitted growing that food abroad — a part of the equation often ignored advocates of organic agriculture — otal GHGs emitted would increase between 21% in the best-case scenario to an astounding 70%, depending on how much natural habitat and forest had to be cleared to make up for the decline caused by England’s and Wales’ switch to organic production. For the European Union, which aims at a 25% organic production target in Europe, the impact of overseas imports would be even more considerable. While the study assumed England and Wales would import the majority of the extra food they needed from Europe, a 25% organic EU would be making up its production deficits by importing food grown in less developed countries with considerably less efficient farming methods, which would significantly increase emissions.

So while we’re in the business of defining sustainability, why don’t we deal with the facts and only the facts?

Originally published here.

Boris Johnson’s interventionist obesity strategy will fail. We need more choice, not less to slim down

Obesity is on the rise like never before. More than one in four people in the UK are now obese, one of the driving forces behind the mortality rate from Covid. In the year leading up to the pandemic, more than a million people were admitted to hospital for obesity-related treatment in England.

Record hospitalisations should be a wake-up call. Public health authorities on both an international and national level have failed to front up to the sheer scale of the challenge. Public Health England and the World Health Organisation are both indoctrinated with interventionist tunnel vision. For them, fighting obesity is banning things, taxing them out of existence, trying to manipulate consumers with intrusive campaigns and attempting to shame them into making “better decisions”. 

Those charged with addressing public health issues are reading from the same tired hymn sheet of failed policies. They are trotting out twentieth-century ideas to deal with twenty-first-century problems and their failures have tragic consequences on an enormous scale.

The headline act in this appalling show is the government’s plan to ban junk food ads. The policy looks set to go ahead after being included in the Queen’s Speech, despite extensive campaigns calling attention to the problems with an overly intrusive approach, for the advertising industry and everyone else.

My mother, a working-class, immigrant single parent, runs a small baking business out of her kitchen. Under the mad ad ban plan, my mum posting pictures of her cakes on Instagram will become illegal. And for what? The government’s own analysis of the policy found that it will remove an average of 1.7 calories from children’s diets per day – roughly half a Smartie.

When asked about the case of a bakery with an Instagram account, the prime minister’s spokesperson was unable to offer any reassurances. A government source quoted in the Sunday Times earlier this year said: “there will be caveats – this is not aimed at small companies advertising home-made cakes online. It is aimed at the food giants.” It remains unclear how a blanket ban on a certain type of advertising can be legally targeted at some companies and not others.

The solution to the obesity crisis lies in more freedom of choice, not less. Even those evil food giants are responding to public pressure, keen to be seen making an effort in this area. McDonald’s, for instance, is providing five million hours of football training across the UK. Even Britain’s pubs play an important role, contributing more than £40 million every year to grassroots sports.

When people voice their concern en masse about a particular issue, private actors go out of their way to make themselves useful and do something about it. Countless companies are voluntarily investing in healthy lifestyle schemes or cutting back their own contributions to obesity. Tesco, for example, has laid out an ambitious plan to boost the proportion of its food sales which is made up of healthy products to 65 per cent, setting an example for the rest of the industry as the market shifts.

Attempts to centralise responses to public health crises in government and concentrate responsibility in Whitehall fail consistently. Tesco’s radical new agenda was not motivated by public health bureaucrats, but instead by demands from its own shareholders and pressure from competitors including Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer. While Public Health England is cracking down on Marmite ads and Instagram pictures of cupcakes, the group of people arguably doing more than anyone else to make Britain healthier are private corporate investors.

Companies and consumer choice are our allies, not our enemies, in the fight against obesity. Rather than trying to hold back the tide, let’s harness the power of the market to tackle obesity.

Originally published here.

Україну названо найменш підготовленою країною до пандемії

Рейтинг Pandemic Resilience Index 2021.

Раніше цього місяця Consumer Choice Center опублікував свій перший Індекс стійкості до пандемії з метою аналізу готовності світових систем охорони здоров’я до кризи COVID-19. Індекс розглядає 40 країн через призму наступних факторів: схвалення вакцин, драйв вакцинації, а також кількість ліжок інтенсивної терапії та темпи тестування. Україна в ньому посіла останнє місце як найменш підготовлена до пандемії країна.

Стійкість країн була оцінена як найвища, вище середнього, середня, нижче середнього та найнижча. Ізраїль та Об’єднані Арабські Емірати очолили рейтинг, в той час, як більшість країн ЄС показали середній рівень готовності. Британія та США — вище середнього.

Нова Зеландія та Україна продемонстрували найнижчу стійкість. У випадку з Новою Зеландією, її відставання можна пояснити місцем розташування та строгим закриттям кордонів. Через те, що випадків було небагато, система охорони здоров’я не стикнулась з критичним випробуванням на непохитність і гнучкість.

Натомість у випадку з Україною — причини інші. Як пострадянська держава, яка пробиває шлях до ЄС, Україна не змогла провести ефективну реформу системи охорони здоров’я. У поєднанні з корупцією, регуляторними бар’єрами для затвердження вакцин та неефективним управлінням, Україна не тільки не змогла на ранніх етапах ідентифікувати зростання рівня поширення ковіду та діяти відповідно, а й швидко адаптувати свою систему охорони здоров’я до новопосталих викликів.

Наприклад, Україні знадобилось на 84 дні більше ніж Великобританії і на більше ніж 50 днів більше ніж ЄС часу для того, щоб офіційно розпочати вакцинацію. Затримки більшою мірою є результатом недалекоглядності і відсутності антиковідної стратегії. Об’єднані Арабські Емірати, які є світовим лідером з вакцинації, розпочали перемовини з виробниками вакцин ще весною минулого року. Гірший ніж Україна за цим індикатором індексу результат має тільки Австралія, яка почала вакцинацію 25-го лютого 2021-го року, на день пізніше ніж Україна.

Боротьбу з вірусом також підриває мала підтримка вакцинації серед українського населення. Згідно з опитуванням, проведеним Національним харківським інститутом соціологічних досліджень Дослідженням, станом на грудень 2020-го року лише 21 відсоток українців хотіли вакцинуватись – 40 відсотків були проти.

Середня кількість щоденних тестів проведених в Україні на 100 тисяч населення (станом на 31 березня 2021-го року) – 0.51 – є однією з найнижчих у світі. Такий показник є у 4 рази нижчий за Британію, у 14 – за Словаччину, та у 11 – за Кіпр. Відповідно до результатів Індексу, тільки Індія та Бразилія тестують менше ніж Україна.

Стосовно кількості ліжок інтенсивної терапії, то Україна тут також на дні рейтингу. Перед початком ковіду в Україні було 4.1 ліжка на 100 тисяч населення. Для порівняння, в Польщі було 10.1, а в Росії – 8.3.

Враховуючи те, що є всі підстави очікувати набагато більше подібних пандемій у майбутньому, надзвичайно важливо задуматися про нашу здатність передбачати такі загрози, розпізнавати їх на ранніх термінах, реагувати, не вдаючись до паніки та поспішного прийняття рішень, уникати дефіциту засобів захисту, виявляти та коригувати регуляторні бар’єри та, загалом, підтримують стан готовності. Україна має багато чого повчитись в інших країн, і Індекс є яскравим свідченням того, що індійський сценарій пандемії є досить реальним для України, якщо ми не розв’яжемо фундаментальні проблеми в системі охорони здоров’я.

Originally published here.

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