A record number of missions and commitments, uninterrupted technical assistance, and internal reorganization in order to deal with the crisis: these are the challenges posed by this no-ordinary year and that we have taken up together. COVID-19 struck suddenly in early 2020, and within a few weeks, health systems were mobilized to diagnose, treat, and support hundreds of thousands of patients. Not all countries were hit with the same intensity. But, everywhere, the implementation of measures necessary to slow down the virus’ propagation caused great disruption in hospitals and health centers. Effective access to health services was limited and even interrupted. Extremely reduced capacity of diagnostic capability, decrease in prevention, and interruption in care access are all indelible consequences of the crisis. The three pandemics of HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria have even “taken advantage” of the global health crisis created by COVID-19: everywhere, one pandemic hides another.
However, 2020 was a record year for L’Initiative. Never before had it deployed so many technical assistance missions! The entire L’Initiative team, its steering committee, our colleagues in Africa and in Asia—and most of us here—were sheltering in place while being more present than ever on the front! Necessity prevailed: so that our partners could access funding from the Global Fund, we shook up our regulations and procedures. We initiated remote technical assistance and changed our working hours. We also signed a record number of new funding agreements. In this unprecedented context, a coordinated response had to be implemented. We had to work twice as hard, find the energy to not be discouraged, and be faithful to our commitment. In these exceptional times, the complementarity between powerful multilateral aid and quick and flexible bilateral aid must be exploited.
So that our partners could access funding from the Global Fund, we shook up our regulations and procedures.
In Paris, between lockdowns, we also revisited our organization with a strengthened team, diverse through its range of experience and competence, and expanded to better prepare for the future and to better serve.
To serve is our motto. To serve countries and their healthcare systems; to serve people, never forgetting the most vulnerable and the marginalized; to serve the Global Fund for more efficiency and responsiveness; and, finally, to serve the values and mission for global health held by France, a country concerned with the role played by civil society, research and human rights communities, and a country that also strives to invest in the long term for long-lasting impact.