This past year has felt dark at times. The global events in my daily news feed – terrorist attacks, massacres, bombings, gun violence, climate change, refugee drownings – have left me with a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach: is this now the status quo? Will this never-ending stream of threats and terror be the backdrop of our lives?
And yet, amidst these feelings of fear and despair, I have experienced moments of hope and joy, sharing in some of the successes of the global health community – both big and small – that have brought health and dignity to millions of people.
One of those moments came this spring, with the release of a report in the respected medical journal, The Lancet, concluding that we are facing a historic opportunity to end the AIDS epidemic as a public health threat by 2030. If we play our cards right – this could be the greatest public health victory of our generation.
Other ‘global health’ moments that both inspired and gave hope this year – Africa marking one full year without a single new case of locally acquired polio and the continued steep decline in maternal and infant mortality. I would also add to that list of hopeful moments, the awarding of the Nobel Prize to three researchers who developed critical medicines for fighting diseases of the poor.
Closer to home, the Dignitas team also celebrated a few momentous achievements. We launched three high-impact clinical studies, all of which have the potential to significantly improve medical treatment for people living with HIV. We scaled up our program activities in Malawi, increasing the number of patients on antiretroviral treatment and continued to successfully integrate the treatment of non-communicable diseases (hypertension, diabetes, cervical cancer screening) for HIV+ patients at our Tisungane Clinic in Malawi, improving the quality and ease of care for our patients.
In Northern Ontario, in collaboration with our partner, the Sioux Lookout First Nations Health Authority, we facilitated participation for our Community Health Worker project from key health stakeholders from across the zone, and began development of a training program to improve care and follow-up for people living with type 2 diabetes.
We also completed a year-long participatory strategic impact and clarity exercise that resulted in the creation of Dignitas’ Theory of Change – a foundational tool for our growth and development as an organiZation in the years to come.
Our achievements at Dignitas represent a sustained commitment to quality health care and equitable health policy. We will continue to contribute to the body of evidence that will lead to strengthened health systems and ultimately, to better and more compassionate health care for people everywhere.
In 2016 we will continue to celebrate our achievements and those of our colleagues working in global health around the world. As we look to launch our Global Health Incubator (stay tuned!), we expect to experience many more global health moments of hope and inspiration in helping people regain their health and reclaim their dignity.
Thank you sincerely for your support of our work.