A new United Nations initiative on healthcare: Michael Kirby Public Lecture

Published 04 August 2016

michael-kirby-300Universal access to essential healthcare will be the focus of a keynote lecture by the Honourable Michael Kirby, former High Court Justice, when he visits the University of New England in Armidale on Monday.
Mr Kirby has been appointed by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to a high-level panel on access to essential healthcare. It follows his retirement from the High Court of Australia in 2009.
The Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Sue Thomas says it is a great opportunity for staff and students to meet one of the most well-known and accomplished legal figures in Australia.
The panel was created to contribute to the new “Sustainable Development Goals,” adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations last year.
Mr Kirby will speak about the importance of ensuring essential healthcare is universally available by 2030. He will also discuss the “policy incoherence” that exists between trade laws and the law of human rights.
Amongst the relevant trade laws is the treaty of the World Trade Organisation giving new and stronger protection for intellectual property rights (including patent protection over pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines and diagnostic tests).
Some of the issues that will be considered will be what happens when there is a clash between the cost of medicines, vaccines and diagnostics and the availability of such benefits to people and countries that can’t afford to pay for them because of the patent monopolies.
As part of this visit Mr Kirby will also be meeting with local high school students from the northern Tablelands where he will speak about careers in law.
The lecture is part of UNE’s strategic plan to be the university of choice for students and researchers who want to transform their lives and help to build resilient communities.