Rotary International Convention breakout sessions can enhance service projects

If you’re joining us at the 2016 Rotary International Convention, 28 May-1 June, plan to participate in a variety of service-related breakout sessions. You’ll have a chance to learn from program experts, explore service opportunities, build new friendships, and connect with prospective project partners. Sessions will be held in the afternoons, 30 May-1 June.

Service-oriented breakout sessions:

  • Speed Project Fair— This is an opportunity to learn how you can help the Rotary family address local community needs through international partnerships, and for your club or district to find an international project to support. You’ll meet project coordinators, explore partnership, and perhaps be inspired to host or attend a project fair in your region.
  • Rotary Community Corps: Community Solutions for Community Challenges— A Rotary Community Corps (RCC) is a group of non-Rotarians who share our commitment to service
  • and who carry out projects in their communities as well as support local Rotary club projects. There are nearly 8,700 RCCs in 90 countries. You will learn about their role in community development, how to establish an RCC, and how to partner with RCCs on projects.
  • Vocational Service in a Wi-Fi World— How can you bring vocational service to life in clubs with young members? We’ll discuss mentoring programs, networking, and business exchanges, and explore possible language changes in our vocational and classification areas. You’ll also learn how to use My Rotary to network on social media with Rotarians of similar interests around the world.
  • Partnerships: Rotary’s Opportunity to Enhance and Diversify Resources and Impact— Partnering with other organizations, from community groups to government agencies, strengthens projects and increases our ability to serve. Learn about Rotary’s four categories of partners — strategic, resource (corporate and foundation funding), service, and project — as well as important updates for each type.

Rotarian Action Groups and Rotary Fellowships at #Rotary16

Preconvention World Water Summit: Join the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group at the eighth annual World Water Summit. This year’s theme is Sustainable Strategies, Sustainable Solutions.

Breakout sessions:

  • Rotarian Action Groups: Enhancing the Professionalism of Your Service Project —  Learn how your club and district can enhance service projects through collaboration with Rotarian Action Groups — autonomous groups of Rotarians, family members, program participants, and alumni who are experts in a particular field.
  • Fellowships — the Hidden Gem of Rotary — Find out how you can connect with new friends from around the world through Rotary Fellowships — independent groups of Rotarians, family members, program participants, and alumni who share a common passion.

Make connections in the House of Friendship

Visit the House of Friendship to network with fellow Rotarians and Rotaractors and to learn about Rotary Fellowships, Rotarian Action Groups, Rotary’s partners, and much more. Download the Rotary Fellowships and Rotarian Action Group Convention Events and Booth Exhibit Guide and prepare to connect with groups that share your interests and expertise.

Download the preliminary schedule for breakout sessions, and watch a recording of the convention orientation webinar for convention highlights, cultural tips, and resources. Download the Rotary Events app for up-to-date information on convention events.



Promoting peace between countries

By Kristin Brown, Rotary Service Connections Manager

Past District Governor Anton (Toni) Polsterer is passionate about peace. His district includes Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) and part of Austria, and he’s seen firsthand the role that Inter-Country Committees (ICCs) can play in promoting peace between countries, or between different ethnic groups within the same country. He’s also seen what the Rotary Foundation can do through grants for large-scale, sustainable projects.

So last year, at a conference on “Building Peace with Rotary” at UNESCO, Polsterer issued a challenge: he would contribute USD 10,000 to the Rotary Foundation for an international project in Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution. The USD 10,000 cash contribution will receive a 50% match by the World Fund, making his gift worth USD 15,000. A number of worthy proposals were submitted and Polsterer announced two projects will split the gift once the grants are finalized and approved by The Rotary Foundation.

One project plans to bring a Vocational Training Team and hold a five day International Training Institute for women peace builders from different countries. Polsterer hopes to see new ICCs emerge in the region as a result of this peace building project. The other brings together children from different ethnic groups and uses music therapy and the process of composing, scripting, designing and performing an original work to heal conflict-induced psycho social wounds and bridge differences among cultural and religious groups.

If you are attending the Rotary International Convention in Korea, participate in the Inter-Country Committees and the $10K Peace Project Challenge breakout session on Tuesday, 31 May from 13:00 – 14:30 to learn more.



Reflections from the 2016 Uniendo America y Project Fair in Tegucigalpa, Honduras

By David Griggs, member of the Rotary E-Club of Lake Atitlán-Panajachel, Guatemala

The Rotary clubs in Central America are divided into two groups: District 4240 with the countries of El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama, and District 4250 with Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras.

Each year, the two districts participate in a joint Project Fair, commonly known as the Uniendo America Project Fair, hosted in one of the seven countries. Clubs from the two co-hosting districts showcase booths displaying their service projects and opportunities for others to support their initiatives. Often times, other nongovernmental organizations with programs in these districts also exhibit partnership opportunities.

International clubs interested in international service activities are invited  to attend the fair, learn about local priorities, discuss project partnership opportunities, and build life-long friendships. While project fairs unite programs that need support with donors who are able to fund them, the friendship extend well after projects are implemented.

This year, the Uniendo America Project Fair was held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, at the end of January. About 100 individuals from Canada, the United States, and the seven host countries participated in the event. In addition to booth exhibits, training workshops and presentations were interwoven into the agenda. Janna Glucksman, Regional Grants Manager for The Rotary Foundation, gave a valuable talk on Rotary’s global grants, stressing that grants must be sustainable and measurable. Janna explained “sustainable” to mean long-term solutions which continue to mitigate local challenges long after TRF and Rotarian funds have been used. Janna reviewed the various steps in the global grant process emphasizing the importance of starting a project by working with the local community to identify assets and needs, and align approaches with local values and cultures to encourage local ownership of the project.

Round table discussions around each of Rotary’s areas of focus promoted engaging conversation.

There were other events of a more light-hearted nature. On Thursday night we all had a delicious dinner together at the Hotel Honduras Maya and were entertained by a delightful troupe of native dancers. Friday night was open and I took advantage of the opportunity to see the movie “Guerra de las Galaxias” (“Star Wars”) on the big screen in English with Spanish subtitles. On Saturday afternoon, a large group of us went on a bus tour to Valle de Angeles. We had lunch at Restaurante La Florida and then had some free time to wander through the interesting village and shop.

Mark your calendar: next year’s Fair will be hosted 26-28 January 2017 in San Salvador, El Salvador. Visit  or contact Hector Castro for more information.



Collaborative Rotarian effort brings healthcare services to thousands in India

By Azka Asif, Rotary Programs Staff

Rotary Family Health Days (RFHD) is a signature program of Rotarians For Family Health & AIDS Prevention (RFHA). The program promotes disease prevention and treatment by implementing a massive, annual campaign in four countries in Africa that provides free health care services to thousands of people in underprivileged communities. Since it was first conceived in 2011, more than 1.1 million people across South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, and Nigeria have benefited from the program.

In February of this year, in partnership with Rotarians from District 3040, RFHA expanded the Rotary Family Health Days program to India. The Family Health Days program was held at 25 camp sites in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India and served an additional 70,000 citizens during the 3-day campaign!


To learn more about this successful program, we asked Alicia Michael, the incoming president of Rotarians for Family Health & AIDS Prevention, what it takes to implement a program of this magnitude:

Why did you decide to pilot Rotary Family Health Days in India?

Michael: After achieving proof of concept in Africa, Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA) began to research other areas of the world that would benefit from our signature program. In 2014 we received a request from Past RI President Kalyan Banerjee to bring Rotary Family Health Days to his home country of India.  In addition, Past RI Director Shekhar Mehta has been a RFHA board member and wanted to implement this important program in his country, so we already had a member from the India team on our board.

Which partners (both Rotary and non-Rotary) were instrumental in the pilot’s success? How did you get started planning the expansion in India?

Michael: RFHA serves as the convening organizer to mobilize not only the Rotarian network, but all sectors of the community including the in-country Ministries of Health, the U.S. Mission (CDC and USAID), hundreds of medical service providers, private sector corporations and foundations, and major media houses.

We always begin with strong Rotary leaders from within the country of interest.  Rotarians must lead the efforts and commit to being actively involved for Rotary Family Health Days to be successful. Shekhar Mehta helped us bring together the Rotary leaders of India to initiate the movement.

We always rely on the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) when we initiate a program in a new country.  The CDC worked with us during our planning stages to conduct a needs assessment in the State of Madhya Pradesh.  The CDC is a working and technical partner of the Government of India.

How did you build relationships with partners that helped you implement the expansion?

Michael: We first traveled to India to meet with the Rotary leaders and the in-country Ministries of Health.  Shekhar Mehta requested the support of Rotary leaders from Madhya Pradesh to lead the program implementation.  RFHA requested the support and technical advice from the Director of the CDC in India.  We all met one year in advance to plan the program pilot rollout. The India Rotary team in the State of Madhya Pradesh obtained a Letter of Intent from the state government health agency, and they called upon the major media houses to provide pro bono support as well.

It is truly a collaborative effort between the Rotarians and many other organizations that results in this massive 3-day, multiple site health campaign.

What kind of health services were provided to the beneficiaries?

Michael: Services included free health screenings and treatments.  We tested for HIV, diabetes, TB, malaria, hypertension, Hepatitis B and C, blood pressure, lung function, cervical cancer and more. The government of India and private hospitals provided hundreds of physicians and many basic medicines such as antibiotics, gastrointestinal medicines and much more were prescribed at each camp.

There were also psychologists and psychiatrists on site for mental health screenings and post-diagnosis counseling.

What was the project budget and how were the funds obtained?

Michael: The total retail value of the pilot program in India is USD $2,790,000.  RFHD served 70,000 citizens over our 3-day campaign with each receiving an estimated value of $25 in health services. This equates to the in-kind donations of time and service by the physicians and physician assistants along with the donated medication to a total of $1,750,000 in medical support necessary to the program.

Equally important is the volunteer support of the Rotarians and Rotaractors which account for another $780,000 of in-kind contribution. This amount is determined using an independent monetization tool and a Price Waterhouse salary survey.  Additionally, we include the in-kind donations of major media at $100,000.

The costs to manage the program, train the Rotarians, mobilize the community and purchase necessary supplies were funded by a $160,000 Global Grant from The Rotary Foundation and supported by District Designated Funds from District 6900 (USA), District 3040 (India) and direct contributions by Rotary clubs.

Was the project different in India compared to Africa?

Michael: Rotary Family Health Days certainly takes on a different face depending on the country in which we are working because the program is led by the local Rotarians.  India truly helped transform RFHD from a disease prevention program to a disease prevention and TREATMENT program!  The on-site access to free medications and the immediate scheduling of follow up surgeries and care was also new to the program.

India’s Rotarian leaders developed an on-line registration and data collection system, utilized at all 25 camp sites.  Using this approach, we shortened participants’ wait time and tracked the number of citizens served in real time.

What do you think makes this project so successful?

Michael: Rotary Family Health Days is driven by the in-country Rotary clubs with thousands of Rotarians working together in the planning and execution of this massive health campaign. The program would not happen without club support.

Rotarians For Family Health and AIDS Prevention operates as a public/private partnership where all partners depend on one another without competing with each other.  Each partner has a specific role and set of responsibilities with RFHA serving as the convening organization.

The Rotary brand also brings the highest level of trust and neutrality to the citizens who are receiving our free healthcare services.

When and where are you planning to offer the next program?  What kinds of preparations are needed before each program?

Michael: We are focused on continuing to scale up our program in Africa and India for the remainder of 2016 and 2017. We also have received interest from Latin America and will explore opportunities there.

The planning for each Rotary Family Health Days program begins 18 months in advance.  Once a location is identified, we travel to meet with the Rotary leaders and the in-country Ministries of Health.  Then we work with the identified leaders to build the complex committee structure, secure funding for resource mobilization and training of the local Rotarians and Rotaractors in monitoring and evaluation systems, obtain written commitments from the major media houses for program promotion, develop relationships and secure support with in-country NGO’s and provide the necessary monitoring and evaluation resources (both manpower and templates) that are crucial to reporting the impact and sustainability of our program.

Watch a documentary to learn more about RFHA’s incredible impact through Rotary Family Health Days. Interested in joining the team or partnering on Rotary Family Health Days? Contact RFHA to learn more.



Taking action to end modern day slavery

By Zuhal Sharp, Rotary Programs Staff

“At age 13, Angela ran away from home to escape family members’ alcoholic rages and abuse. After a night without shelter she got into a car with a man who promised love, then sold her for sex countless times before her 16th birthday. Rachel – whose mother was incapacitated and whose father committed suicide – said her choice at 15 years old was to sleep on a park bench and eat from a trash can or to say yes to the middle-aged man who first offered her money for a sex act. Their stories of isolation, brutal violence, and sadness aren’t unique or far away.”

Carol Hart Metzker, a member of Rotarian Action Group Against Child Slavery (RACSRAG) shares what led her to take action against modern day slavery. Read the complete story in The Rotarian.

According to the Global Slavery Index, an estimated 35 million men, women, and children around the world are trapped in modern day slavery. Countries with the highest numbers include India with an estimated 14.29 million enslaved people, followed by China with 3.24m, Pakistan with 2.06m, Uzbekistan 1.2m, and Russia with 1.05m. Although slavery is illegal in every nation, illegal profits from human trafficking are valued at USD $150 billion annually.

The Rotarian Action Group Against Child Slavery (RACSRAG) is committed to change these numbers and encourages the Rotary family to join their efforts by:

  • Creating awareness: Tell Rotarians and the wider public that millions of children are held captive for profit.
  • Taking action: Supporting, working with and promoting global anti-slavery bodies and activities through Rotary clubs and districts, campaigns and projects that help protect children from slavery and its consequences.

Visit the Rotarian Action Group Against Child Slavery’s website at or visit their booth in the House of Friendship and breakout session at the Rotary International Convention in Korea.



Foster service partnerships and new friendships at the 10th annual European project fair

By Leonardo de Angelis, 2013-2016 District Rotary Foundation Chair, District 2072 (Italy)

Dear friends,

Registration is now open for the 10th annual Multi-Club Workshop, scheduled for 7-11 September 2016 in Palermo, Italy. Similar to project fairs, Rotarian friends are invited to come learn about European service projects in need of support at our September event. Join us for three days in striking Palermo where you’ll learn about opportunities to support fellow Rotarians’ work in their home countries including Greece, Macedonia, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia, Serbia, Zambia and others, build life-long friends, experience Sicilian culture, and explore historic sites. Attendees will also participate in workshops and informational sessions on global grants, planning and implementing sustainable service projects and Rotary resources and tools for enhancing projects.

View the preliminary agenda and take advantage of early-bird prices by registering before 31 May.

For those wishing to extend their stay, additional excursions around Sicily have been arranged for 11-14 September.

Over the past nine years, international friends from all over the world have worked together to support 30 large-scale projects at previous Multi-Club Workshops, amounting to US $1.6 million invested in Rotary projects. We look forward to seeing you in beautiful Palermo and making an even greater impact in communities needing our assistance!

Warmest regards,


Previous Multi-Club workshops have been hosted in Stockholm, Bari, Riga, Ravenna, Malmö, Manfredonia, Belgrade, Ischia, and St. Petersburg. Collectively, we’ve supported 30 international projects, many of which have received funding from The Rotary Foundation. The 2015 Multi-Club Workshop in St. Petersburg resulted in five supported projects totaling US $353,000. Because of the partnerships built at last year’s event, six global grant applications are currently under review or already being implemented.


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Service and Rotary Friendship Exchanges: growing from meaningful experiences

By Camille Ronzio, member of Rotary Club of Eugene Southtowne, OR, USA, and District 5110 Rotary Friendship Exchange Chair

What happens when we incorporate service into our Rotary Friendship Exchanges? Last year we began incorporating half day service projects into our Rotary Friendship Exchanges.  Rather than just observe how our Rotarian friends exemplify Service above Self in their communities, we decided to take action jointly carry out our founding principles during exchanges.

HeadstartEarlier this year, when a visiting Rotary Friendship Exchange team from District 3010 (Delhi, India) arrived in Eugene, Oregon (USA), we took them to a public preschool program called Head Start where the Eugene Southtowne Rotary Club has been volunteering for the past four years.  Our guests helped us read to the young students and distribute books for each child to take home.

When our District 5110 team goes to India to visit our guests, we will participate in a polio vaccination program to help immunize children against Polio.

Last Rotary year while our exchange team was in Romania/ Moldova, we incorporated service components throughout our entire stay. Trip highlights are included below (with a full recap available online):

  • Local Rotarians from Timisoura identified a park project where many children from an apartment house played. The park had many pieces of unsafe equipment.  Unfortunately, the project was still waiting for approval from the city when we arrived but our team collected money to help build a new play structure as part of the club’s park renovation efforts.
  • ShoesWe visited the Deborah House, a home for women rescued from sex trafficking and violent situations. The founder and director of this program is a Rotarian in the local club and host an RFE couple. She mentioned the house needed summer athletic shoes for the girls they served. We immediately went shopping and then presented each girl with a pair of shoes.
  • Our team visited a foster care facility in Sighteu Marmatieu for victims who had been in orphanages at an early age. A local Rotarian works with children from mass care facilities and places them in foster homes they can better care in a smaller group setting.  Several visiting Rotarians donated funds so the children could enjoy recreational activities including art projects and trips to a swimming pool in the summer. One Rotarian sent knitted scarves and caps to keep the children warm in the winter.

Later that same year, our new friends from Romania/Moldova came to visit us in the USA for another exchanged filled with fellowship and service. Together we hosted an art fundraiser using the talents of one of our guests, Rotarian Elvira Cemortan-Volosin. Elvira taught a painting class for children and generously donated her artwork for sale at an exhibit. Half of the proceeds went to a basic education and literacy Rotarian project in Moldova and the other half went to a Rotarian-led basic education and literacy project in Eugene.

ConstructionOver the past year, a number of our visiting teams helped us build homes for low-income families, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, here in Oregon. After one year of incorporating service projects during our exchanges, we have experienced many positive results: the shared experiences have made team members and hosts feel closer and build stronger bonds!  Making a difference and sharing service yields positive rewards that last beyond the exchange.  Try it!

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Rotarians impacting the lives mothers and children in Nigeria and Pakistan

By Melissa Willis, Executive Director for Rotarian Action Group for Population and Development (RFPD)

The Rotarian Action Group for Population and Development (RFPD) serves as a resource for clubs and districts around the world in the area of maternal and child health. The most challenging aspect of RFPD’s work is the simple fact that this isn’t an issue that can be resolved in merely five or ten years. It’s an ongoing effort with limitless opportunities to impact women and girls worldwide.

RFPD has established and will continue to maintain a database of population based projects. A number of projects have already been completed and provide direct benefit to less developed parts of the world. Our pilot project Improvement of Maternal Health (2005-2010) in northern Nigeria, funded in part by the Rotary Foundation, the German government (BMZ) and the Aventis Foundation, was a comprehensive approach and has been scaled up in three additional states of Nigeria.

Our 5-year-pilot project focused on the two northern states of Nigeria, Kaduna and Kano, with a target group of five million women. Our goal was to identify main risk factors for pregnant women and address them through advocacy and raising awareness at the grass roots level. The elements of our comprehensive approach included radio segments, training of healthcare personnel, delivery of medical equipment, improving the quality of structure and process of healthcare facilities and providing routine HIV/AIDS testing to prevent mother-to-child transmission.

Improving the quality of structure and process in hospitals is a prerequisite to improve the health of women and children. Our activities were aimed to establish an Institute of Quality Assurance in Obstetrics by:

  1. Analyzing the structure of the hospitals.
  2. Raising the quality of obstetrical services by making operating theatre and delivery rooms functional.
  3. Training doctors and midwifes to improve the quality of process and outcome for maternal and child health.

We selected ten hospitals in Kaduna and Kano State to participate in data collection of maternal and child mortality, and maternal disorders during pregnancy and delivery. The data provides profound insight and continuous awareness. It also stimulates discussions among doctors and midwifes on preventing maternal mortality. Once the quality of services in hospitals and staff is ensured, the next step is raising awareness among the population on the improved maternal health services. With the help of culturally sensible media campaigns, women will learn about the availability and advantage of improved health services. As a result, they will seek reproductive health services before and during delivery.

In addition, RFPD initiated and supported clubs working on a project in Pakistan that addresses family planning within its borders.  Pakistan’s opportunities for education, employment and access to good health care are being challenged due to the country’s continuously growing population.  Approximately one fourth of Pakistani women wish to delay the birth of their next child, and despite considerable demand for family planning, lack of services and contraceptives only contribute to the rising population crisis.  This project is also being replicated in Ethiopia.

The main objective of RFPD in the coming year is to communicate the importance of sustainability.  While many clubs and districts implement meaningful and worthwhile projects, they are unable to sustain the projects long term due to limited revenue streams and limited volunteers. RFPD has made it our goal to lead by example by ensuring that our projects are sustainable long term.



Rotarians are committed to ending malaria

By Azka Asif, Rotary Programs Staff

Today, World Malaria Day, is dedicated to highlighting the progress made in malaria prevention and treatment. It is also a day to commit to continued action and investment in fighting the dangerous disease.

Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted through female mosquitoes. According to the World Health Organization, about 3.2 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – are at risk. In 2015, there were an estimated 214 million new cases of malaria and 438,000 deaths, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.*

Pregnant women and children under five years old are more vulnerable to malaria. Malaria infection during pregnancy is a major health risk to the mother and her unborn baby. Rotarians are committed to fighting malaria and keeping mothers and babies healthy. Here are just a few examples of how the Rotary family is preventing and treating malaria:

  • The Rotary Club of Asaba in Nigeria led an awareness campaign focused on educating expectant mothers on the dangers of malaria. Rotarians explained ways to prevent the disease through the use of mosquito nets and keeping your environment clean.
  • The Rotaract Club of Niger Delta University in Nigeria led a Roll Back Malaria campaign to raise awareness and teach causes and prevention methods.
  • The Rotary Club of Borivli, India, in partnership with the Rotary Community Corps (RCC) of Devlapada, organized a public seminar on malaria. Local doctors provided insight on causes, ways of prevention, and treatment of the diseases. More than 50 families were educated at the seminar.
  • The Rotary Club of Nashoba Valley aims to use Indoor Residual Spraying (IRS) for mosquitoes in six villages benefiting more than 20,000 villagers in Malawi. Each village was identified based on their malaria rate and will also receive training and education on malaria transmission and how to remove areas of standing water for a cleaner environment.

Millions of people still lack access the services they need to prevent and treat malaria. Partner and collaborate with Rotarian experts on malaria related projects and initiatives: 

  • Rotarians Eliminating Malaria: A Rotarian Action Group unites Rotarians to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality through provision of goods, education and other interventions that lower infection rates.
  • Rotarian Malaria Partners encourages the Rotary family to work together to eliminate malaria through advocacy, partnerships, hands on projects, and raising funds to support malaria related efforts.

Use the blog’s commenting feature below and share how your club is working to End Malaria For Good. Join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook by using the hashtag #WorldMalariaDay. How much do you know about malaria? Take the quiz on malaria.

*[World Health Organization’s World Malaria Report 2015]



Stopping mothers from dying: a Rotarian’s quest for vocational service

By Past District Governor Dr. Himansu Basu, Rotary Foundation Cadre Technical Coordinator in Maternal and Child Health

Three mothers and twenty babies die every five minutes; the majority of these deaths occur in Africa and the Indian subcontinent. I was always aware of the huge global burden of maternal and new born deaths, many of which are preventable.

When my Rotary district was chosen to be a part of the Future Vision Pilot in 2010, we saw an opportunity to support a project focused on maternal and child health. I realized that to make a meaningful and sustainable impact, the programme would have to be strategic with measurable impact and evidence-based components. It became clear that such an innovative programme would need to be tested as a pilot with close monitoring and evaluation.


Many of my friends and supporters in global professional organisations, governments, NGOs and of course Rotary at all levels helped develop the initial programme. Through these collaborations, the Calmed (Collaborative Action in Lowering of Maternity Encountered Deaths) programme was conceived.

It became obvious that although maternal and child health was a designated area of focus for Rotary International, the problems were not very visible to many Rotarians and non- Rotarians. Many didn’t know about the high life time risk  of woman dying at childbirth: 1 in 40  in Nigeria, 1 in 250 in India and 1 in 5900 in the United Kingdom.* Even though these deaths were largely avoidable, they continued to occur in areas with limited resources.

Leveraging the Rotary Network

As part of the pilot, we also identified a need to mobilize and strengthen resources available within Rotary, including professionals (doctors, nurses, midwives, hospital workers and volunteers) who would support effective maternal and child mortality reduction programmes.

As chairman of International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors, it was natural for me to promote the Calmed programme to a global audience through Rotary International conventions, regional and district conferences, international institutes and other meetings. I accepted the Medical Directorship role with the Rotarian Action Group for Population and Development, a RI group of technical experts who advise on Rotarian-led maternal and child health programmes.

As a Rotary Foundation Cadre Technical Coordinator in Maternal and Child Health, I remain engaged and connected with Rotarians seeking assistance with programmes and projects related to reproductive, sexual health and family planning.

What is the Calmed programme?

 The Calmed programme utilizes the train the trainer model to build medical expertise in emergency obstetric and new born care. The programme also raises awareness of pregnancy and child birth related issues in rural villages with limited access to larger health care facilities.

The third component of the programme analyses all maternal deaths to identify avoidable causes and makes recommendations for corrective action (Maternal Death Surveillance Response- MDSR). As the state of the art programme evolves, we continue to add new elements and technologies such as Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), anti-shock garments (NASG), Golden Hour concept, etc. to address identified needs.

Calmed Vocational Training Teams:

There are three Rotary Global Grant funded Calmed programmes that are currently taking place in:

  • Sikkim, India l Target population 0.7 million – introduced in 2013, with repeat visits in 2014 and 2016.
  • Bhuj, Gujarat, India l Target population 2.5 million  – introduced in 2014 with a second visit in 2016.
  • Madhya Pradesh, India l Target population 3.5 millionpreparatory work is in place and the visit is planned for October, 2016.

So far, these teams have trained 39 approved Master Trainers (goal is 100). These Master Trainers have trained 264 doctors and nurses (goal is 500) in emergency obstetric and new born care, as well as 95 ASHA trainers.

Impact of Calmed Vocational Training Teams:

The primary aim of the programme is to enhance trained workforce in the emergency care of pregnant women and babies and to improve participation of village women groups in raising awareness for health care issues during pregnancy and childbirth. Doctors and nurses in target areas have reported increased confidence in tackling emergencies since the inception of Calmed. A three year follow up from Sikkim shows progressive reduction of maternal deaths to a quarter of yearly deaths in the population since Calmed was introduced 3 years ago.

What can you do?

  • Invest in women and children’s health as it is vital for sustainable economic and social development.*
  • Unleash the power of vocational expertise of Rotarians and professionals, the Calmed VTT programme is a template for action.
  • Share Calmed’s success stories and consider introducing the programme in areas with high rates of maternal and child mortality.

Please act now! Visit the programme website and contact me with any questions or comments. Together, let’s stop mothers from needlessly dying!

The Rotary Calmed programme is an award winning programme having received two coveted national awards – The Times Sternberg Award in 2015 and Rotary GBI Champions of Change Award of 2015-16.

*[World Bank 2014], *[PMNCH, 2013]