We often hear of the COVID 19 pandemic referred to in terms of a “Great Equalizer”. While we believe that the pandemic has revealed the reality of our interconnectedness as a human family, it has also illuminated the grave inequities that exist within our societies. The pandemic has taught us that health outcomes are not equal for all people throughout the world. We have witnessed the extent to which Black, Indigenous, and other communities have been marginalized by our healthcare system and this magnifies the existence of two pandemics; one of infectious disease and the other of systemic racism.
ASILI is passionate about fighting for social justice within our own country, but we feel an equal imperative to acknowledge similar patterns of health inequity, and systemic racism that exist globally and disproportionately affect Africa.
In Tanzania, we hear regularly from doctors on the front line of this deadly pandemic; their urgent need for equipment, lack of evidence-based information reaching communities, and complications of economic hardships and dependence on world powers. Most often, we hear of villagers who are struggling to keep their loved ones safe in regions that are already heavily impacted by infectious disease and some of the highest rates of poverty in the world. At ASILI Research Alliance we believe these disparities are not only unacceptable but that they are also avoidable.
Since its inception, ASILI’s mission has been to empower those who struggle from life-threatening diseases to live healthier and more productive lives. We believe in a collaborative approach to community healthcare and have worked with traditional healers to create plant-based treatments which address the infectious diseases that most impact these communities, but that also honor the rich botanical diversity of East Africa and the knowledge holders within these communities who have utilized this wisdom for generations.
ASILI’s commitment to Tanzania has continued throughout the COVID 19 pandemic. Our current campaign to supply the most impacted clinics with COVID 19 Relief Packages is likewise dedicated to securing equal access to healthcare and the creation of jobs for the most vulnerable. We have partnered with traditional women’s collectives to create CDC approved face masks and local businesses to distribute hand sanitizer and safety information sheets to rural communities. We are additionally partnering with local government and civil organizations to support COVID 19 clinical research and the advancement of science from within East Africa.
We believe that while we can overcome these struggles, we must actively do so together. It's imperative that we not only acknowledge, but also confront the inequitable nature of structural violence and how this disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous, and other communities within our societies, our environment, and our healthcare system. As we move forward in the fight for justice and equality, let us please remember not only those impacted within our own country but also those who continue to struggle throughout the globe.