The day before yesterday (17th November) was exactly 10 years since the idea behind Moxafrica first materialised so it was an important day for us. Interestingly, a couple of other important things also happened (beyond drinking some single malt whiskies to honour the occasion because it was single malt that originally kicked it all off).
Firstly, we got an email the same day from a new friend (Fabio Diaz) who is committing to set up a moxa project in Angola - something which we intend to help him with as best we can. We're hoping that this will be an important new initiative - Angola as an immense TB problem with MDR-TB almost completely unaddressed.
Secondly, an edition of NAJOM landed on our door mat. NAJOM (the North American Journal of Oriental Medicine) has been a source of constant support to us, and they'd asked us for an article for their most recent edition which we did willingly (submitting a piece developed around the fact that we were approaching our tenth anniversary). The piece began: 'By the time this edition of NAJOM is published, the original idea behind Moxafrica will be 10 years old'. Well it turned out to be exactly ten years old so was a nice coincidence!
But most importantly of all, a vital and potentially historic statement was released on this same day at the end of a special two day ministerial conference in Moscow (the first ever WHO Global Ministerial Conference devoted entirely to TB). Here's how it started out:
We, the Ministers of Health and from across Governments acknowledge that despite concerted efforts, tuberculosis (TB), including its drug-resistant forms, causes more deaths than any other infectious disease worldwide and is a serious threat to global health security.
TB kills more than five thousand children, women and men each day and leaves no country untouched. It is one of the leading killers among people of working age which creates and reinforces a cycle of ill-health and poverty, with potential catastrophic social and economic consequences for families, communities, and countries.
That's an accurate summary (though TB may well yet be shown to be killing more than 5,000 every day). Further on they made the following important statement:
We commit ourselves to ending TB ... and call upon other UN organizations and all partners, to provide the support necessary for success.
It's important for anyone reading this to be clear what this means. This doesn't just mean calling on the WHO to ramp up its efforts to end this plague (which it needs to do) and increasing the support from richer donor nations and the World Bank etc.: it means a sea change in the proportion of domestic funding that is currently allocated to national TB programmes by some of these self-same ministers who've made this commitment - and also requiring every possible effort from them to increase the proportion of their respective countries' gross domestic product that is spent on their own citizens' health.
But it means something for us all as well: it means that we as global citizens must hold these politicians to account if they fail in their commitment.
So our tenth anniversary was a big day in every respect - and we marked it by drinking a unique blend of Japanese and Scottish single malts to pay homage to the curious combination of east and west, north and south that is so fundamental in our endeavours.
Whilst we know mixing these liquids in this way would give any self-respecting whisky buff paroxysms, we hope that it might gives any moxa buff reading this a reason to smile and maybe give cause raise a glass of your own filled with whatever might take your fancy in solidarity with our shared hopes and aspirations.