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World AID's Day - 2015

Today, December 1, is World AID's Day.  It has been celebrated since 1988, to raise awareness about the AIDs pandemic and to remember the millions who have died.  The toll that this disease has taken and continues to take, particularly in the developing world is beyond tragic, it is a global embarrassment that the slow progress to eradicate HIV/AIDS is condoned.

Although important gains have been made in access to treatment, it is still the case that in 2014 only 32% of children and 41% of adults living with AIDs are actually receiving treatment.  Unfortunately statistics on women and men over 50 years of age are not collected.  It has been known for years that putting all patients with HIV on antiretroviral medicines not only prolongs their lives but significantly reduces their ability to spread the virus.

We know that women and girls are especially vulnerable.  The UNAIDS Strategy 2015 - 2017 states that "Gender inequality - including denial of women's and girls' rights to protect their sexual and reproductive health and bodily autonomy - remains the most pervasive form of inequality, with direct implications for women's risk of acquiring HIV".

There is a wealth of information on the UNAIDS website for those who would like to take a few minutes on this World AIDS Day to contemplate "how AIDS has changed our world" -

Is progress being made in ending violence against women and girls?

"As the problem of violence against women and girls is elevated in global policy circles, the activists (i.e. women's groups) who put the issue on the map are increasingly being left out of the discussions." So says an editorial in the recent issue of the Lancet.  Click here to read this insightful article.  And let's make our voices heard - for girls and women of all ages.

Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Shortly before our recent Federal election, an announcement was made that an agreement in principle had been reached on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.  It still took some time before the actual contents of the agreement were made available for scrutiny.  As expected there are points, which have now been verified, which will make access to affordable medicines even more difficult than before.

We invite you to read a letter from the Global Treatment Access Group (GTAG), of which GRAN is a member, written to the Prime Minister, the Minister of International Development, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Trade.  This letter spells out the on-going concerns we have which seems to be more about corporate power than it is about trade.  Click here to read the letter.

November 20 is the International Day of the Child

Teachers Play a Crucial Role in Peacebuilding

Sustainable Development Goal 4 states that inclusive and equitable quality education is needed to ensure the learning of all students. Although it is recognized that well trained teachers are the key to a child’s receiving a good quality education, to date, not much attention has been paid to the role that teachers play in peacebuilding. However, a recent review undertaken by a team of experts at the University of Sussex shows not only that education is crucial to ensure a peaceful future, but also that teachers play a central role in peacebuilding. Although teachers can be victims or even perpetrators of violence during conflict, they are a vital part of the solution when rebuilding a post-conflict educational system. Attention must be paid to recruitment, training, support and remuneration of teachers in order to realize their full potential as agents of peace and social cohesion.

To read more, click on this link:

Orange the World: End Violence Against Women and Girls

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign which runs from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10 (Human Rights Day).

During the 16 Days Campaign, the United Nations’ UNiTE to End Violence against Women invites governments, civil society organizations, and individuals to mark the 16 Days of Activism by increasing awareness, and calling for political commitments to be matched with action and adequate resources to end violence against women and girls. The UNiTE Campaign uses the colour ORANGE as a uniting theme symbolizing a brighter future.

In sub-Saharan Africa, violence against women and girls is both a cause and a consequence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, making grandmothers and the children in their care particularly vulnerable.  There is a strong connection to be made with all GRAN’s advocacy issues:  deprivation and neglect of grandmothers and women of all ages in sub-Saharan Africa; access to health care and medicines; child, early and forced marriage; education and school-related violence; and sexual violence against women and girls in conflict zones.

The 2015 UNiTE Campaign INVITES us to “Orange the World: End Violence against Women and Girls” by participating in, or organizing “orange events” in support of this international campaign.  For more information:

GRAN encourages your groups and friends to participate in this global action.  By acting locally in this global campaign you will help increase public awareness of violence against women and also raise the profile of GRAN and our work. Please click here for the GRAN resource and suggested actions.


November 12: World Pneumonia Day

Established in 2009, World Pneumonia Day is marked every year on November 12th to increase awareness and advocacy efforts to combat pneumonia, promote interventions to protect against, prevent and treat pneumonia and generate action to combat pneumonia.

Pneumonia is the world’s leading killer of children under the age of five, one of the most solvable problems in global health and yet a child dies from the infection every 20 seconds. It causes more deaths in children under five than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

Even though a vaccine to prevent pneumonia is available, 75% of children around the world remain unprotected against pneumonia. Combating pneumonia is essential to meeting Sustainable Development Goal 3.2 which aims to reduce preventable child death.

World Pneumonia Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and advocate to combating pneumonia so that all children, regardless of where they are born, can have access to life-saving vaccines and medicines.

To learn more about the issue: view this 1:49 minute video “What if this was your friend’s child”, at  and/or World Pneumonia Day website

To add your voice to help children beat pneumonia please sign A Fair Shot petition by clicking here.

To spread the word and enlist the support of families, friends and communities, a Petition Text/Signatures Sheet as well as a Petition Instruction Sheet can be downloaded at,  scroll down to Resources.

Adding your voice can help win the fight against pneumonia. Will you join us?

How Big Pharma got the better of Ottawa

Big Pharma has not kept its commitment to invest in Research and Development, according to an article written by Paul Christopher Webster (Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, October 29th).  Angela Quinlan of GRAN’s Access to Medicines Working Group has presented the following very interesting and helpful summary. 

Three Canadian scientists hope to enlist the support of both government and venture capitalists to relaunch a Research facility in Montreal, one of many abandoned since 2010. According to the scientists, Canada has a history of researching and developing pharmaceutical drugs but has failed to profit from them. For example, an arm of the Public Health Agency of Canada recently developed a vaccine for Ebola virus, which it licensed to a U.S. company for $205,000, who then flipped it to Merck for $50 million (U.S.).

Most of the recently abandoned drug laboratories in Montreal were built in the 1990s after the federal government passed legislation that substantially increased drug patent protection to 20 years. In return, international Pharma companies promised to sink 10% of Canadian annual sales back into R&D in Canada. That quid pro quo was negotiated by then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in a prelude to the 1988 U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement. In 2011, according to the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA), the brand-name drug makers spent as little as 1.4% of sales revenue on discovery science. Instead drug companies are spending lavishly to acquire new drugs through acquisitions rather than developing them in their own labs. In 2014, the total value of mergers and acquisitions in the life-sciences sector (of which Pharma is by far the largest component) topped $300 billion (U.S.).

Over the 10 years ending in 2012, the 11 largest global drug companies made $711 billion (U.S.) in profits; their CEOs took home a total of $1.6 billion (U.S.).

The CGPA states that the generic industry fills 67% of Canadian prescriptions, yet accounts for only 23% of the $23 billion Canadians spend on them annually, for a savings to governments of $13 billion.

Marc-André Gagnon, a professor of public policy at Carleton University who specializes in the Pharma industry, says that the industry’s argument is as empty as west Montreal’s abandoned research centres. While the industry formally committed to increasing R&D in return for stronger patent protection from the Mulroney government, Gagnon notes, it has offered no such commitment while pressing for even stronger protections within the CETA and the TPP agreements.

The TPP is one of the largest trade deals negotiated, mainly in secret. The brand-name giants pushed for extended patent protection not just for traditional drugs but also for the new class of biotech-derived drugs known as biologics.

To read the entire article go to:

Access to affordable generic medicines for world’s poorest countries under threat

Geneva, 12 October 2015 - Starting Thursday, 15 October, the Member States of the World Trade Organization will be considering a request by the world's poorest countries to be exempted from implementing medicine patents for as long as they are classified as least-developed countries (LDCs). If this request is not granted, access to affordable medicines for millions of people in these countries could be negatively impacted.

While members of the European Union voiced their support for the LDC request, other wealthy countries, including Canada, are putting pressure on the LDCs to accept a deal that would put them in a position where they will be in a much riskier situation.

Read more and express your concerns via e-mail at   or via twitter by clicking on the Twitter icon at the top of the link below and editing the message to include:

 , pls protect Access 2 affordable meds for poorest countries and the link below or any edit of your choice.



International Day of the Girl Child, October 11th

On October 11, UNAIDS calls upon governments to commit to ending gender inequalities in education, eliminating violence against women and girls, and ensuring the availability of age-appropriate sexual and reproductive health services. These are all actions that contribute to strengthening the response to HIV/AIDS and support the recently endorsed Sustainable Development Goals.

Read UNAIDS’s excellent statement which touches on all the issues that GRAN Working Groups are addressing:

International Day for Older Persons, October 1

On International Day for Older Persons October 1 (and every day), GRAN salutes the grandmothers of Sub-Saharan Africa who are the heroes on the front lines of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  While grieving the death of their adult children from AIDS they have stepped up to provide for their grandchildren and sustain their communities.  One way that Canada could help grandmothers in sub-Saharan Africa would be to increase Canada’s contribution to foreign aid.

In 1969, at the urging of the Canadian Prime Minister the United Nations (UN) adopted a resolution calling for member countries to contribute a minimum of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) to Official Development Assistance (ODA).  Now at 0.24%, Canada’s contribution stands at the lowest since 2003; and the 2015 budget provided no increase.

We want to see Canada pay its fair share.  Canada paying its fair share will aid people around the globe and those with whom GRAN is especially concerned:  the grandmothers of sub-Saharan Africa in their struggle to rebuild the lives of their children, their grandchildren and their communities.

During this election campaign, the Grandmothers Advocacy Network will be asking our candidates if they agree that Canada should live up to the promise made to vulnerable people around the world, including the grandmothers of sub-Saharan Africa. It is time to commit 0.7% to ODA!