A Powerful Idea
Introduction by Rossella Miccio, President of EMERGENCY, in the 2021 Report
EMERGENCY has set itself great challenges ever since its foundation in 1994. Our work consists in large part of being faced with tough situations and working around them in order to put forward an alternative, based on peace and human rights, through our hospitals.
With all its medical and political ups and downs, 2021 proved to be a trying year of transition for the world. It spurred us at EMERGENCY to expand our humanitarian projects and made us even more convinced in our work.
The arrival of vaccines for Covid-19, one year after the virus surfaced, promised a better world, where everyone would be a conscious part of one community. Here was an ethical challenge that went beyond medicine; healthcare would be the starting point on the road to a new, more global sense of identity for people all over the world.
And yet at the end of 2021 we still found ourselves in a world of privileges, not of rights. The basic principle of healthcare as a universal right had fallen at the wayside. Whole continents, like Africa, had been left out of the vaccination campaign, waiting in vain for medical resources and technology to be sent their way. Once again, the Global South found itself picking at the scraps from the Global North’s table.
Covid-19 has sounded the alarm for an existing disparity in healthcare, at the same time as worsening it. It is imperative that we do more and work faster to fight both the virus and the wider problems at stake.
In Yemen, we went on with our renovation of a planned hospital for war victims in Hajjah, in the country’s north. In Entebbe, Uganda, we began clinical work, throwing open the doors of our new hospital to children; now Uganda has a Children’s Surgical Hospital and the African Network of Medical Excellence has a new hospital to which patients from across the continent can come. We also increased our work in Afghanistan, to be there for its people now that foreign powers have – disgracefully – turned their backs on the country after 20 years of broken promises. We enlarged our training courses for local staff, to make local health systems stronger – because there is no real health without public healthcare. And we stepped up in Italy too – where we brought food to families hit by the recession in the wake of the pandemic.
Public healthcare is the commitment that shows a state has decided to take care of its people.
At EMERGENCY, we often analyse and talk about how much the world spends on health compared to how much it does on war – an obscenely skewed balance that we seek to redress with our projects, relying on the dedication of people who choose to take the road less travelled.
These people, you, all of us, are the substance behind our hospitals, behind every statistic you read in this report and every one of our achievements. Our people give us the strength to take on any challenge.
In August, we were taken completely unawares. Though a powerful idea for doing good lived on, we lost the man behind it. At the end of a testing year, our thoughts are of Doctor Gino, our bedrock. The void left by his loss has compelled us to spend time remembering him, to look back on everything he did; it has also tested our very foundations. And yet throughout our long journey, his powerful idea has not only stayed with us but spread to others. It has provided a model for the universal right to healthcare and for the dignity of all mankind. Let us go on spreading that idea together.
Thank you, Gino and all of you.
Rossella Miccio, President of EMERGENCY