Compelling Arguments At Leinster Debate Heat

April 7, 2013

Posted by Irish Forum for Global Health | News

Brendan Shelly’s interest in global health stemmed from a workshop organised by the Student Representative Group of the Irish Forum for Global Health in his school in Donabate last year. This year, a fifth-year student, he attended the Leinster heats of the Irish Forum for Global Health’s Global Health Debate, organised by the Student Representative Group, and was impressed by the arguments in both sides of the house…

In the lead up to Tuesday’s (April 9th) Making Time National Global Health Debate, four teams came together to compete in the Leinster heat last month. On the night, at TCD’s Historical Society, participants debated whether “bigpharma and the biomedical paradigm are failing the world’s poor”.

Proposition teams came from Kimmage Development Studies Centre (Shane Walsh and Caroline Bisikwa) and Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (Mark Abel and Emmet Power), with the opposition from Trinity College Dublin (Liam O’Neill and Gavin Tucker) and University College Dublin (Nicholas Power and Ciara Gallagher).

The Leinster heats really set the standard for the finals. Teams on both sides spoke passionately and informatively, making my attendeance at my first debate of this calibre an especially interesting experience. Each team made some brilliant points regarding the biomedical paradigm and big pharma. All of which strongly supported their arguments.

The proposition focused on the lack of investigation into illness and potentially life-threatening diseases affecting populations in developing countries in comparison to the large sums invested in cosmetic medicines and non-lifethreatening medicines in deveoped countries, such as hair removal medication. They asked whether investment in these conditions can be justified when people dying of treatable diseases in the developing world such asturberculosis. They argued that the burden of disease in developing world stems from lack of preventative measures and that, in big pharma, only 3% of research is done into diseases that affect the developing world, with twice as much money being spent on marketing as opposed to research and development.

The opposition strongly rebutted many of the statements, leaping to their feet to question and challenge facts as the debaters on the floor attempted to disregard their competitors. They reminded the audience and judges that every firm, company and corporation has to make money somewhere and that the place where big pharma is most likely to make money is the Northern Hemisphere, in the developed countries. They stated that the developed world was in the same position as the developing world 100 years ago, but big pharma and biomedical paradigm has treated TB and provided of insulin for diabetes, for example.

At the end of the night, the judges retired to deliberate on the result and it was the Opposition Trinity College team that won a place in the final this Tuesday, April 9th. In all, it was a professional, feisty, informative debate full of ethical dilemmas and insights.

The Making Time National Global Health Debate will be held at 7.45pm on April 9th in the Royal College of Physicians, 6 Kildare St, Dublin. Please email [email protected] to attend.


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