World Consumer Rights Day

Today is an important day for consumers, but it will be interesting to note how many people actually know this.

Consumers International, a membership organisation for consumer groups worldwide marks today annually as World Consumer Rights Day.

On its website, it says: “The consumer movement marks 15th March with World Consumer Rights Day every year, as a means of raising global awareness about consumer rights and needs.

“Celebrating the day is a chance to demand that the rights of all consumers are respected and protected, and to protest against market abuses and social injustices which undermine those rights.”

World Consumer Rights Day, it said, was inspired by former US president John F Kennedy, who sent a special message to the US Congress on this day in 1962, in which he formally addressed the issue of consumer rights.

“He was the first world leader to do so. The consumer movement first marked that date in 1983 and now uses the day every year to mobilise action on important issues and campaigns.”

This important day probably would go by un-noticed by many. For what it is worth though, it is a day that deserves attention.

On this day in 2016, the Ministry of Health was cracking down on instances of antibiotics being given over the counter. There was a concerted effort to ensure drug resistant strains of diseases did not develop in Fiji.

The day was celebrated with the theme “Stop Misuse of Antibiotics”.

Resistance to antibiotics isn’t a pleasant thing.

It means we are at the mercy of diseases that would otherwise have been fixed with antibiotics. At the time, there was concern that the overuse of antibiotics was creating superbugs that were resistant to them.

If we are not vigilant, we run the risk of unleashing a scenario where antibiotics will become ineffective against common infections. The end result is they become difficult to cure.

Last year the theme was “Building a digital world consumers can trust”, and this year the theme is “Making digital marketplaces fairer”.

Consumers International has called for fairer digital marketplaces, keeping to this year’s theme.

E-commerce, it said, had transformed the way people shop, giving consumers more choice than ever before. But it has also raised global issues that we can tackle together.

In 2017, it said, global e-commerce sales reached $2.29 trillion, but nearly 70 per cent of consumers worry their digital payments were unsafe.

Meanwhile, it said, half the world’s population were still offline. World Consumer Rights Day is important for many reasons.

It is a day to promote the rights of consumers, and a day when we can remind ourselves that these rights must be respected and protected.