The past few weeks have certainly been eventful, set against the backdrop of a global pandemic that continues to have an impact across all areas of our work. Chief Executive Jon Rosser reflects on what these momentous times mean for our organisation and the children and families we are working for.
Black Lives Matter
The Black Lives Matter protests reverberating around the world should make us all reflect on how we deal with issues of fairness and equality. It has echoed so strongly in Britain, not just as a reaction to a dreadful police killing, but as it relates to broader concerns about how people are treated here, despite years of apparent progress.
All of us need to reflect on how we and our organisations ensure fairness and value difference. World Child Cancer is founded on the belief that every child in our world should be entitled to the best treatment and care if they get cancer. We are a long way from achieving that goal but we press on determinedly — one child at a time until we can reach them all. But a noble goal is not enough on its own — we will also reflect on how we work as an organisation: how we treat one another; how we recruit staff and volunteers; how we develop talent, and how we unite a team spread across the world who bring a variety of cultures and languages to enrich what we do. We do not assume that we get it all right all the time.
Merger of DFID into the Foreign Office
In the last few days, a key decision that may affect our work for years to come is the abolition of the dedicated aid agency in the UK, DFID. DFID is a globally respected aid agency and we regret the decision to abolish it, which will not help the Government's objective of building a global Britain. More important than the structures though is the continuance of the core objectives of aid. Aid programmes are designed to assist the billion or so people who have not benefited from globalisation and economic development. These are the people who remain in extreme poverty, excluded from key services like health and education and at risk of being permanently left behind.
Whatever structures the Government puts in place to manage aid, they must continue to commit to focusing on the poorest and most marginalised, leaving no one behind. Children with cancer, whose poor families become significantly poorer as they try to get treatment for their child, are one such group that should be prioritised by development aid.
And Covid-19 is still with us
Meanwhile the countries that we work in continue to be affected by Covid-19, threatening to disrupt fragile health systems that struggle to cope even in normal times. Covid-19 did not spread quite as fast in these countries as many feared in the early stages of the pandemic, but the signs are that it is taking hold now and the numbers of cases are increasing steadily. It is certainly not over yet, and UK Aid should really focus on supporting these weak health systems to cope. Failure to do that will put us all at risk, in this interconnected world.
The decision therefore by the Government to freeze all new UK Aid programmes pending a review is particularly worrying in the midst of this crisis. We call on the Government to decide on priorities rapidly and ensure vital health programmes are supported.
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