As we reflect on the events of 2021, we honor the courageous work that our community of health workers, global partners, and HEAL supporters have forwarded in response to this year’s extraordinary challenges. 
Our HEAL team has grown to include Navajo full-time staff, our achievements are many, but the work ahead is both daunting and essential. 
We share a message of gratitude that we sent out to our HEAL fellows. MLK said in his last speech “Only when it's dark enough can you see the stars.” 
In these dark times, HEAL fellows are bright spots sustained in this long night of COVID by each other, our partner sites and all of you.  
In Solidarity,
Sri and the HEAL Team
A Letter to HEAL Fellows
December 24, 2021
Dear HEAL community,
As we reach the two-year mark of a pandemic that refuses to recede, all of you have been working endlessly for better, more equitable care for your patients. It's hard to remember a time that has required more sacrifice, has been more isolating, more exhausting, and more overwhelming.
It's also hard to remember a time when our work was more important. Your work right now is crucial. 
COVID is not about just COVID. Vaccine Equity is not only about universal access to a COVID Vaccine. It is that but also much more.  
It is the fight for equitable access to the fruits of science for everyone. It is about living on a planet where grotesque inequalities in health outcomes, across populations, across countries, across the rich and poor don’t exist. That is what your work represents.
The HIV movement took a single disease focus and used it to try to strengthen underfunded and broken health systems around the world. COVID has dramatically exposed how much we need to reimagine our public health systems, our delivery of care, our focus on health justice.  
As this year comes to a close, each member of this community and each of our partners represent a bright spot, an antidote to the vaccine hoarding, the inequitable access to treatment, the unjust mortality that we see more clearly at this moment. 
The striving this community attempts daily at our core reminds me of this quote by noted feminist writer and activist bell hooks (who died this month):
The global solidarity that the HEAL community represents is a signal of something important and good. In a global pandemic, the work of global solidarity of health workers is sacred work.  
We are grateful for your example.  We hope you take time to care for yourselves with the same love that you care for others.
Please reach out if you need anything. 
Looking forward to more time in person, and a better 2022 together, 
on behalf of the HEAL team
HEAL in the Media: A Year of Advocacy
Though HEAL fellows work in different countries, health systems, and serve diverse patients and communities, one thing continues to connect HEAL fellows together: the drive to ensure their patients have equitable access to high-quality health care. Here, we share a few of the many stories that emerged from the HEAL community in 2021.
MARCH - On International Women’s Day, KPFA Radio featured 5 women of HEAL who have committed their careers to global health equity. HEAL Alumni Graciela Cadet, MD (Haiti), Natasha Topaha, MA (Navajo Nation), Jimena Maza, MD (Mexico), and Annie Huang, MD (USA).
MARCH - Last Mile Health’s Savior Flomo Mendin, RN (Liberia) and HEAL Alumni hosted a webinar on International Women’s Day hosted by the World Health Organization, emphasizing the enormous contributions of women to care work.
MAY - Sri Shamasunder, MD, HEAL Co-Founder wrote about cycles of generosity and responsibility that wealthy nations have to equip global leaders with knowledge and infrastructure to produce their own vaccines. This conversation continues as we see variants surge globally as a result of vaccine inequities.
MAY - HEAL Co-Founder Sri Shamasunder, MD speaks with Professor Dacher Keltner of UC Berkeley’s Center for Greater good about how gratitude helps him find light in dark times.
JUNE - Twenty-two new fellows joined HEAL, committing to two-years of growing their skills in leadership and advocacy in a time when their patients and communities are facing growing challenges to healthcare access.
Navajo Area IHS Directors Award to HEAL
JULY - The HEAL team was awarded a Navajo Area Director's Award for Outstanding Volunteers recognizing the many deserving individuals who provided service to the Navajo Area Indian Health Service over the past year.
AUGUST - HEAL Alumni Abhi Kole, MD writes that ending the pandemic should be a universal goal, driven by collaboration over capitalism, science over ideology, and people over nations.
SEPTEMBER - In the wake of the devastating second wave of COVID which killed millions of people in India, HEAL Alumni Anup Agarwal, MD spoke out, demanding that science be used to help the Indian people, not weaponized to forward government narratives.
OCTOBER - Healthcare professionals took a stand by participating in protests, demonstrations, and movements to pressure leaders to move the policy needle and convince drug companies to open up their formula books.
NOVEMBER - Adriann Begay, MD, Cristina Rivera Carpenter, PhD, RN and Denee Bex, RD, MPH, Indigenous HEAL fellows and alumni working as health advocates in Navajo communities, reveal how their advocacy has taken shape in the time of COVID-19.
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