2020 was a year like no other, and the health challenges facing the world’s population and the healthcare professionals who care for us have continued to grow while efforts have been focused on containing the spread of COVID-19.
Many resources will be needed to effectively combat these threats to global health – one of the most critical is knowledge.
We have seen over the course of the pandemic that misinformation among patients and healthcare workers can be as lethal as any pathogen. At a time when our scientific knowledge is changing more rapidly than ever before, accurate and up-to-date health information is vital to instil confidence in effective new treatments and prevention measures, build trust within marginalised communities and ultimately save lives.
Restoring disrupted services and communities
The pandemic has had far-reaching consequences for health systems and after 18 months, essential health services remain severely disrupted in 90% of countries. Among these are treatment services for HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis; non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer; malnutrition; as well as critical preventive services like family planning and immunisation.
The BMA Information Fund – now open for applicants – remains committed to supporting organisations working to restore disrupted services and communities adversely affected by health inequality during the pandemic. We will continue to prioritise applicants working to mitigate the ongoing impact of COVID-19 in their communities, whether through education to prevent transmission, direct care or all-important efforts to increase equitable vaccine coverage.
Taking action against climate change
Achieving good health for all globally requires looking beyond the traditional ‘health’ sphere. The UN Sustainable Development Goals provide a framework for understanding the many aspects of wellbeing that must come together if we are to secure human and planetary health, now and for future generations. All the goals are interlinked and mutually dependent, but we believe one of the most critical is taking urgent action to combat climate change.
The climate crisis is a health crisis, and the BMA is actively calling for ambitious climate action ahead of COP26, due to take place in Glasgow next month. We also know that one of the most important things we can do on the ground is help healthcare providers become more sustainable and prepare for the effects of climate change.
Understanding changing patterns of health needs
In the coming years, health systems will need to cope with changing patterns of health needs. Animal vectors of disease, such as mosquitos, are already appearing in new areas; failed crops and unpredictable weather mean that hunger and malnutrition are on the rise; and people are increasingly being displaced by extreme weather events. That is why we provide a range of targeted educational materials – for example, on vector control and water management – to help health and community organisations prepare, adapt and grow their resilience through knowledge.
The world is changing faster than ever before.
It is of the utmost importance that healthcare professionals worldwide have the latest information and practical tools to tackle the challenges we are now facing, and those that lie ahead.
Medicine is a global profession, with personal and collegiate links that reach far and wide. As we launch the 2021 Information Fund, we ask our members to consider who within their international networks might benefit from the health information resources we offer. We need your help us to reach as many deserving organisations as possible during this unprecedented time of crisis.
The fund is open for applications from Friday 24 September. Applications will close on Friday 5 November 2021.
We can only accept a total of 100 applications, so we encourage interested organisations to apply as early as possible to ensure they do not miss out on this
Successful applicants will be informed by 17 December 2021 and books will be dispatched from January 2022 onwards.