It is not easy to make an end of year statement for 2020.
The most appropriate way to start is to dedicate this statement to all of us for going through a difficult and challenging year with our heads held up high. We managed to keep our souls filled with courage, hope and love for all those we are here to serve - everyone suffering from tuberculosis (TB), HIV, malaria and other diseases.
I have the most profound RESPECT for every single one of us for standing by and conquering our fears and worries. For the many sleepless nights, countless hours of work, day and night shifts, calls and emails, and amidst all of this - for the light, optimism and smiles which we were able to share in 2020! All of us showed in our own way, big and small, just how resilient human nature truly is. For every single one of us working on providing TB response: at the village, in the city, district, subnational, national, regional and at the global level – it has never been nor will it ever be easy!
We know that it was never deemed fancy to work in TB. And now, on top of everything, we see our efforts towards ending TB pushed back by 4-5 years. We see the stigma and human rights abuses continuing; we lack the funding to secure access to the right tools and interventions to diagnose and treat every single person affected by TB. We continue to struggle for more than 20 years now to get the resources and interest needed to develop a TB vaccine, and we are still nowhere close to succeeding – it is in no way easy!
However, out of this frustration, I am encouraged and heartened to see that we are growing more ambitious than ever, more vocal than ever and more united than ever. Standing shoulder to shoulder, every single one of us: people affected by TB, community workers and volunteers, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, researchers, epidemiologists, technical experts and partners, TB program staff, national TB program managers, Ministers of Health, donors, activists and advocates, including the private sector, celebrities and journalists. It is my deepest wish to see all of us in the TB community combine our forces so we can jointly move fast and furiously, take risks, innovate and try out new things and maybe fail. And then try out other things and succeed and never have to slow down or halt our drive toward reaching our goal of ending TB.
With this solidarity in mind, entirely focussed on people and their needs, I look towards the coming new year. With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, I foresee 2021 as a challenging and demanding year for all humanity. But I am also sure that we will deliver. We will be fearless, restless, full of energy, hope and love as we continue our tireless work to end TB.
We will not slow down, and we will not give up. Bring it on. We are ready!
And on this note, I wish you all a Happy New Year and see you in 2021!