BMA Launches Campaign To Promote Fair Trade Of Medical Supplies Ahead Of Fair Trade Fortnight, UK

February 23, 2009 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

The BMA today launched a campaign to promote fair trade in medical supplies ahead of Fair Trade Fortnight (23 Feb – 8 March). The campaign1 calls on healthcare workers and the public to contribute to the NHS consultation on ethical purchasing.

Dr Mahmood Bhutta, BMA advisor on the BMA’s Medical Fair and Ethical Trade Group said:

“There is evidence to suggest that many supplies used in the NHS are produced in unhealthy, unsafe and unfair working conditions. Workers in the developing world are poorly paid and are exposed to hazardous conditions where they risk serious injury and even death. For example, many surgical instruments are made in Pakistan2 where workers work twelve hours a day, seven days a week. Some suffer serious injuries due to poor standards of health and safety. There is also a use of child labour, with some workers as young as seven. It seems perverse that labourers around the world are risking their lives to supply us with equipment to save British lives.”

He added:

“Fair trade is not just about the products we purchase, it is also about things that are purchased on our behalf. Taxpayers have an opportunity to tell the NHS they want medical equipment purchased in line with fair and ethical trade guidelines. The NHS body responsible for advising GPs and hospitals on the purchasing of medical equipment has recently produced a consultation document on this issue. I would urge anyone who cares to submit a response to that consultation.”

1 The BMA has launched a facebook group for people who want to keep up with the latest information on the campaign: and is encouraging doctors and the public to take part in an NHS consultation on ethical procurement of medical supplies.

Details of the consultation are here and the consultation questions can be found hhere ttp://

2 Pictures of the working conditions in Pakistan are available here.



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