As the President and the Executive Director of the Thalassaemia International Federation (TIF), we would like to express our full alignment with the message issued by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, acknowledging the milestones, challenges, and opportunities in global public health throughout 2023.
We applaud the remarkable strides in eradicating diseases and infections, such as ending the COVID-19 public health emergency and intensifying efforts to eliminate polio. Additionally, we celebrate the progress in numerous health-related areas, including the elimination of malaria in Azerbaijan, sleeping sickness in Ghana, trachoma in Benin, Mali, and Iraq, and lymphatic filariasis in Bangladesh and Lao. We also welcome the development of new vaccines for malaria, dengue, and meningitis and the introduction of the HPV vaccine to 30 additional countries with the aim of eliminating cervical cancer.
However, we cannot overlook the health degradation witnessed in conflict-ridden countries. The recent devastation in Gaza has left countless people suffering and health systems disrupted, making it increasingly difficult for communities to access essential healthcare services. Conflicts in Ukraine, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Myanmar demonstrate how inseparable peace and health are. We join our voice with WHO’s call for an immediate cease-fire to secure a healthy future for all.
We are optimistic about the advancements made regarding Universal Health Coverage by the United Nations General Assembly and their commitment to end tuberculosis while preparing for future pandemics. Such efforts illustrate how unity among governments can create a safer and healthier world for all.
In such situations, poverty, lack of clean water access, and poor sanitation activate the spread of infectious diseases. The global resurgence of cholera exemplifies this, with over 40 outbreaks recorded in 2023.
Moreover, we cannot overlook the unique challenges faced by thalassaemia-affected communities, who rely on specialised care through hospitalisation, continuous medication on a lifelong basis, and public health services to survive. Deterioration or interruption of such services can pose a significant threat to their health and lives. Catering to chronic patients’ needs must stay at the forefront of Universal Health Coverage initiatives.
As TIF, we urge decision-makers at all levels to prioritise healthcare, a crucial component of global progress. Addressing the unique needs of individuals with conditions like thalassaemia is a significant step towards ensuring the sustainability of our healthcare systems. Together, let’s strive for a world where every person, no matter their health condition, has access to necessary care and support.
Wishing you a peaceful, healthy, and prosperous New Year.