In 2020, our staff members kept on working tirelessly to implement official recommendations and protocols, to adapt their activities, and to ensure the safety of our beneficiaries
Letter from the President, by Mary-Christine Lizarza
We cannot take stock of 2020 without talking about COVID-19: the virus that quickly crossed borders, ravaging every corner of the world when we least expected it. By the end of 2020, nearly two million people in the world had died from this pandemic and almost 84 million were infected.
It started with a minor scare on the other side of the world. One year on, it has substantially changed our life as we knew it before then. Almost all of us have been affected in some way: by the illness itself, by having lost a loved one or just by having been confined at home, which has forced us to find new ways of working and interacting with others.
The virus that has crossed oceans and reached every continent has had, and continues to have, major social, economic and environmental (among other) repercussions. The latter are still difficult to accurately assess, however they have exposed some of the inequalities that are deeply rooted in our society.
In most countries, the vulnerable populations have been the ones who have had the greatest difficulties in accessing the social and health resources they needed. The professional teams from the Dianova network however have continued to provide shelter and care services to people with alcohol and drug dependence, to disenfranchised youth, to the homeless, and to all other highly vulnerable groups.
Our staff members kept on working tirelessly to implement official recommendations and protocols, to adapt their activities, and to ensure the safety of our beneficiaries in our health centres in Bangladesh, on our programmes for the prevention of communicable diseases and the provision of shelter for homeless people in India, and in our centres for the treatment of drug and alcohol dependence in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Chile and Uruguay.
All of them have carried out this immense task, despite the flagrant lack of protective equipment and other materials, financial resources, and the uncertainty they felt in their own personal lives. They have continued just as they always have, through thick and thin, all of them committed to providing the best and the most appropriate care to our beneficiaries and collaborating on a multitude of new tasks. My deepest thanks to each one of them.
The crisis has made us aware of the essential nature of the service we provide, especially in the area of alcohol and drug dependences. The authorities in many countries have provided limited support for addiction services. It is for this reason that we have launched an awareness campaign with the message that substance use and other dependences are a public health issue and addiction services should therefore be considered essential.
Finally, without wanting to play down the disastrous effects of the pandemic, I would like to point out that it has had its positive points, namely the acceleration of digital transformation processes.
Many of the immediate solutions to the crisis have involved the use of digital tools. Online tools have enabled us to improve our service users’ therapeutic follow-up and maintain contact with their families. We have quickly learnt how to handle collaborative tools, allowing us to increase our exchanges. Finally, we have maintained our commitment to making ourselves, and the voice of civil society, heard through webinars and online platforms during major international events.
The pandemic has taught us the significance of living in a globally interconnected way. It has taught us that the borders we see in maps do not exist, just as there are no isolated issues and actions. This is why we need to be able to understand this interrelationship and think systemically, anticipating the impact of our actions on the numerous and varied levels and contexts.
Thank you and happy reading everyone.
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