Letter written January 2023 by L.P of Whangarei – copied with the permission of the author
“Dear Emily Henderson (Labour MP – Whangarei)
I am writing with regard to the proposed changes to the Therapeutics Products Bill. I would like it to be known that I strongly oppose any changes to the bill and would like my letter to be presented to support some of the reasons why I am opposed and that this should not be allowed to happen.
Firstly I would like to acknowledge that people have the right to choose what level of health they want. If it is acceptable to be allowed to go to a supermarket and buy 4kg of sugar and a box of donuts it should be equally acceptable to be able to choose to buy supplements’ without restriction.
The human body requires over 50 vitamins, minerals and salts, and it is generally accepted that the average person is no longer able to achieve that through diet alone. The US Government official website, National Library of Medicine, published a national food analysis paper that stated that over the last two decades there has been a marked decrease in nutritional values in many high consumption foods they studied. Given that fact, and that here in NZ we also have no Selenium in our soils only goes to show why supplementation has become an essential part of the average healthy person’s lifestyle.
WHO themselves, on their website acknowledge the role of self care in achieving the right to health. In their paper “countries vow to combat malnutrition” in November 2014 they state that over 2 billion people are affected by micro nutrient deficiencies also know as hidden hunger, obesity is growing rapidly and that over half the world is affected by some sort of malnutrition. These are appalling statics. They suggest that vitamin and mineral deficiency is the leading cause, and have pages of information attesting to that fact.
It is believed that more than 50% of New Zealand’s population takes supplements or other health products. It is clear that the average person on the street is looking for more answers to their health than the current medical establishment can provide. In Whangarei at the moment, there is a wait time of up to five hours before an ambulance patient can be seen in hospital. What is being done about that? Our Health system is in a mess. I challenge you to find one person who thinks otherwise, and yet by putting your finger on the therapeutic goods act will do nothing to help that. It is my belief that as it stands at the moment half the population are helping to prop up the woefully inadequate health regime. No wonder people are looking for alternatives to try and help their health before they end up in one of those ambulances, no longer at the bottom of a cliff, but stuck in the ambulance bay. Heaven help us if the tools to try and improve our own health is taken away or modified. There is the old saying “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” how about trying to fix the already broken health care system you have. Based on the performance of that one, I fail to see how Government interference can ever be good for the Therapeutic goods sector.
Another Bureaucrat will not make anything safer or better, If we have learnt nothing else over the past few years it is that. Would it not be better to put time and effort into trying to fix the problems in the health sector we already have, instead of creating yet another regulatory body. We have had enough of those; they never seem to help the average person on the street. This new regulator by your own admission is going to be paid for by the therapeutic goods they are controlling. It will in turn knock out all the small operators, the plant and seed growers , the small essential oil and herb tea manufacturers, the trader in the markets selling traditional salves and cosmetics. Only the big companies will survive. How does that help?, except to once again make the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, leaving the prospect of personal health a luxury for only the wealthy.
Also in the act it is mentioned that the only people who can prescribe, administer etc any therapeutic goods have to be licensed. Where does that leave the local healer or Herbalist in our country? It is my understanding that Herbalists are not recognised in any form of certification in NZ, and yet their knowledge of medicinal Herbalism would far exceed those in most medical fields. Every culture has a history of the medical man or healer, and although I see there is special mention of the Maori’s right to practice Te Rongoa Maori, to deny access through legislation to ANY form of traditional medicine is to deny historical rights to any race. We think we are so enlightened, but just like in the middle ages, I fear this is going to end up yet another witch hunt.
It also mentioned in the bill that even if you were to receive no financial reward you could still be prosecuted if what you are doing goes against the new regulator. This is a very broad overreach and could have implications that potentially see anyone accidentally fall foul of the laws, giving away a herb from your garden, or suggesting that vitamin C or Aloe Vera could be good for something. If you think this sounds farfetched, think again. Look at the last list of herbs spices and plants that were suggested should be on the chopping block, such as coconut, cinnamon and Aloe Vera. Conveniently, no such new list has been published to my knowledge. It is now going to be completely open to whatever the regulator sees fit.
This is a heinous bill and I strongly oppose it in every aspect. It goes against basic human rights to be able to achieve the right to health. That is in all forms, not just whatever Big Pharma wants to sell you. We have all heard the saying “follow the money” who gains out of this bill? Certainly not the consumer ,or the workers within the field.
I hope this letter finds you well. Enjoy it while you can, because those days could be numbered if this Bill goes ahead”
Editor footnote: Despite the many thousands of submissions against this Bill, it was passed under urgency in July 2023 by Labour.