New Rotarian Action Group takes on hepatitis eradication

By Humberto Silva, Chair of the Hepatitis Eradication Rotarian Action Group and member of Rotary Club of São Paulo-Jardim das Bandeiras in Brazil

Humberto SilvaAccording to the World Health Organization, viral hepatitis is the seventh leading cause of death worldwide. Together, Hepatitis B and C kills close to 1.4 million people every year. Around the world, 400 million people living with chronic Hepatitis B and C, the most serious forms of viral hepatitis, don’t know they are infected. Untreated cases cause serious damage to the liver and result in death.

I was once one of those 400 million people in good health and without a single symptom while my liver was being taken by cirrhosis. In 2010, before a trip to the South Africa FIFA World Cup, I visited the doctor to ensure my vaccines were up-to-date. Apart from the vaccines, the doctor also tested for Hepatitis B and C and there it was: hepatitis C.

I received treatment and a second chance at life. I knew I had to do something to help the millions of other people who were still suffering. I started to research the disease and found that 3 million in my country of Brazil shared my same problem. They showed no signs of a damaged liver, but were living with the terrible disease. I became president of the Brazilian Association of People with Hepatitis (ABPH) which established five free clinics in Brazil with a the sixth one soon opening in Mexico focused on prevention and treatment.

Using point of care blood testing, we started offering screenings all over the country. We performed half a million tests and identified 5,000 people like me living with the disease with no symptoms of infection. We helped those testing positive for hepatitis connect with treatment options.

My Rotarian friends accepting my invitation to join the mission. We engaged Rotary clubs throughout Brazil, and have now spread to all of Latin America. Over 1,000 clubs are working with us, performing low-cost and convenient tests to detect the disease. Lives are being saved and each infected person now has a chance to get treatment and be cured. Today, treatment is easy and effective in almost 100% of cases. The biggest challenge is finding those who are infected with the disease.

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The Hepatitis Eradication Rotarian Action Group was formed to help clubs and districts with hepatitis screening and testing campaigns. Join our group and volunteer to help us form a committee in your country to conduct testing. The group is open to Rotary members, their families, program participants, and alumni with expertise or a passion for a particular service area.

Contact me for more information and to join our efforts!

Empowering women and girls in Afghanistan

By Bibi Bahrami, member of the Rotary Club of Muncie and founder of AWAKEN

Growing up as a young girl in the peaceful village of Qala-e-Malakh in Afghanistan, I was part of a loving family with ten brothers and sisters. We were happy, but little did we know that our lives would soon face devastation as the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979. I was frightened and scared for my life and for the lives of my loved ones. Every time I heard shots or explosions, I trembled at the thought of losing a family member.

In the face of war, we were forced to flee our home, leaving everything behind to head towards refugee camps in Pakistan. A long journey awaited us as we traveled through mountains without much food or water, with small children and my mother who was eight months pregnant at the time. We arrived to the camps safely where I spent the next six years of my life. My life had been turned upside down. Growing up, I always had aspirations and dreams to be educated, and hoped for the opportunity to pursue them. My six years in the camp did not give me that opportunity, but I tried to learn what I could from my brothers’ books.

In 1986, I boarded a plane to meet my fiancé, who was a medical student in the United States who I had met in the refugee camp in Pakistan. My trip brought me to Muncie, Indiana, and I was blessed with the opportunity that I had always wanted. I was finally able to pursue my education, completing a GED and continuing on to receive an art degree from Ball State University. As my life has moved on from my home in Qala-e-Malakh and the refugee camps, I never forgot about the girls I left behind who have the same dreams as I did.

My husband and I continued to travel back to the refugee camps in Pakistan every year, with medicine and other humanitarian supplies. In 2002, with the support of family and friends, we established AWAKEN (Afghan Women and Kids Education & Necessities) to provide educational opportunities, vocational training, and healthcare services to the people of Afghanistan, especially the women and children.

As part of AWAKEN, we offered a vocational training program where we traveled from village to village and rented a room conveniently located near women’s homes. We conducted a six-month course teaching women basic hygiene, reading, writing, and sewing. At the end of the course, all women received a sewing machine and kit so they could become self-sufficient.

There were also no opportunities for education in my hometown of Qala-e-Malakh. In 2004, AWAKEN established a school for children grades K-12. The school now has more than 1200 students enrolled.

Most villages in Afghanistan do not have access to any sort of healthcare. In 2008, we built the Behsood Health Clinic which provides over 500 families access to basic treatments such as vaccines, birth control, etc. The clinic sees more than 180 patients daily.

Recently, AWAKEN partnered with the Rotary Club of Muncie Sunrise (United States) and the Rotary Club of Jalalabad (Afghanistan) to establish a Saheli Center. The center will open near the current AWAKEN clinic and school providing literacy, nutrition, and reproductive health classes. The center will also provide vocational education, including but not limited to computers and tailoring expanding upon AWAKEN’s efforts.

One of my biggest dreams was to open a birthing center in the village. AWAKEN created a birthing center to provide prenatal and postnatal care. With the support of partnering Rotary clubs, we will expand our efforts by conducted Family Planning Workshops taught by medical professionals from the Rotary Club of Jalalabad and the AWAKEN clinic staff. Birth attendants will also conduct small workshops on pre-natal nutrition, birthing practices and infant nutrition, including breast feeding for those receiving pre-natal care. Small packages of infant care supplies provided by the Rotary clubs will be given to women who complete all the classes.

I was once a little girl in Afghanistan with limited opportunities, and am blessed to have the life I enjoy today. Unfortunately, people living in impoverished countries do not have access to the opportunities and resources that I do now. Together we can make a difference in the lives of many women and children in Afghanistan, so that they can awaken to a brighter future with opportunities for continuing their education and becoming self-sufficient!

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Collaborative Rotarian effort brings healthcare services to thousands in India

By Azka Asif, Rotary Service Connections 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!

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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.

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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]

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Rotary’s commitment to saving mothers and babies

By Azka Asif, Rotary Programs Staff

Everyone everywhere has the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. However, gender-based discrimination often undercuts this right. It causes women to be more susceptible to sickness and less likely to obtain care, for reasons ranging from affordability to social conventions keeping them at home. *

Through projects focused in maternal and child health, Rotary members are committed to reaching United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

A mother and her daughter hang out outside the classrooms at Rancho Alegre schools in California, USA.Each year, at least seven million children under the age of five die from diseases, malnutrition, poor health care, and inadequate sanitation. To help reduce this rate, Rotary members provide immunizations and antibiotics to babies, improve access to essential medical services, and support trained health care providers for mothers and their children. Nearly 80% of maternal deaths can be prevented with access to reproductive health services and trained health care workers. Rotary projects aim to provide education, immunizations, birthing kits, and mobile health clinics to support these causes.

During April, Rotary Maternal and Child Health Month, we’re celebrating our commitment to improving the lives of mothers and babies around the world. Here are just a few examples of service projects that are aiming to create healthier lives:

  • The Rotary Club of Metro East Taytay in the Philippines partnered with a group of medical practitioners to provide free health services to more than 100 women who come from low-income families and were unable to afford healthcare.
  • In Nigeria, the Rotary Club of Port Harcourt GRA provided free healthcare treatment to mothers and children from more than 120 families. Women and children were tested and treated for various diseases and ailments and those whose conditions were severe, were referred to hospitals for further checkups and treatment.
  • The Rotaract Club of Kampala annually leads a Save a Mother, Save a Child in their community. This year the project aimed to educate expecting mothers, provide cervical cancer screening, family planning services, and HIV/AIDS testing and counseling.
  • Haiti has the highest rate of maternal and infant mortality in the western hemisphere. 91% of women deliver at home. Rotary members provided a fully equipped medical jeep carrying up to 12 volunteers to any region in Haiti. The jeep allows mobile clinics to be run in hard to reach places to provide health services to expecting mothers. Watch the video below about this project.

Throughout the month of April, encourage fellow Rotary members to check back here for tips, resources, and inspirational success stories to help plan club and district maternal and child health projects. Add your voice to the conversation using the blog’s commenting feature and share how your club supports water and sanitation initiatives on Rotary Showcase. 

*[www.unwomen.org]

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Rotaract members are committed to preventing diseases

By Jessie Dunbar-Bickmore, RI Programs staff

Rotaract clubs around the world are dedicated to making their communities healthier. Here are just a few examples of how Rotaract clubs are improving their communities through disease prevention and treatment projects:

The Breakfast Revolution

As a club of doctors and medical students, the Rotaract Club of the Caduceus in India leveraged their core skills with the support from Rotary clubs, partner Rotaract clubs, community organizations, and local governments to address the growing problem of malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, and anemia among children. They provided highly nutritious, affordable, and good tasting meals through a sustainable supplementary food program including regular medical check-ups for beneficiaries. Fundraising, corporate partnerships, and innovative supply chain management has allowed the club to cover 75-85% of the cost, making the program affordable and highly accessible within the community.

Rotaract East Africa Impact Project (REACT 2014)

Diarrheal diseases are spread through contaminated water and are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality especially among children under the age of five. The Rotaract Club of Kisumu in Kenya brought together more than 100 Rotaractors from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda to attend their workshop dedicated to health and hygiene. Together they learned to train community health advocates who educate about modern water purification methods, train kids and families to practice good hand washing techniques, and distribute reading material related to hygiene and sanitation.

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Cena a Ciegas

The Rotaract Club of Tijuana Nueva Generación in Mexico pioneered a fun, educational, and inclusive culinary experience called “Blind Dinner” at local restaurants to raise awareness and money to support the visually impaired. Working together with the PRISMA organization, Rotaractors fundraised to provide access to education materials, eyeglasses, and donate canes to the blind or visually impaired. The club worked closely with restaurants and community members to host the project regularly and improve the quality of the experience every time. New businesses are eager to get involved in this fun opportunity to that gives back to the community.

These projects were regional winners of the 2014-15 Rotaract Outstanding Project Awards. Tell us about your club or district’s high-impact, sustainable project aligned with Rotary’s areas of focus. Share your success and get recognized for your outstanding service. Complete the nomination form by 1 February.

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Rotarians addressing mental health

By Rita Aggarwal, Rotary Club of Nagpur, India; Rotarian Action Group for Mental Health Initiatives Board of Directors

Priyanka had been feeling depressed since she was in Grade 9, but did not understand her predicament. Her grades were falling, she was losing interest in friends, getting irritated and sleeping a lot. She was skipping school more often, crying alone and contemplating suicide often. When she failed Grade 9, she was brought in for counseling and recommended treatment for depression. Many children like Priyanka suffer from depression, often undetected until the point of crisis.

Rani was in constant conflict with her husband and wanted to die of shame and humiliation because he often accused her of having illicit affairs with other men. Out of sheer disgust, frustration and a strong urge to end her life, she came in for counseling as a last-ditch effort. She was informed that her husband suffered from a mental illness called paranoia. She was surprised that such a disorder existed and could be treated!

These are just a couple of examples of the vast range of mental disorders many people face in silence. The figures are shocking. In India alone, between 60 and 70 million people suffer from common and severe mental disorders. About 50% of severe mental disorders and 90% of common disorders go untreated.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 20% of Indians will suffer from some sort of mental illness by the year 2020. We just don’t have the required number of psychiatrists and psychologists in India to handle the crisis.

Widespread stigma is attached to mental illnesses in India. Parents of children with mental health symptoms might not be aware and misunderstand the predicament. Many people believe mental problems don’t exist.  We need a lot of awareness and education about the various mental health problems and opportunities for professional help. We need to develop a positive attitude towards mental disorders and the knowledge that it can be treated and managed.

We must remember that every family, every community is affected by mental health issues in some way. The members of the Rotary Action Group for Mental Health Initiatives share a vision. Our dream is to work for a happier, healthier global society. We aim to make treatment accessible to as many affected persons as possible and prevent mental health problems through awareness generation and community workshops. We act as a resource for Rotary clubs and district undertaking related projects worldwide.

RAG-MentalHealth_PMS-C

 

How do we work with Rotarians?

RAGMHI aims to build an association of Rotarians who are passionate and have expertise in mental health treatment. Our members are actively interested in creating awareness, designing solutions and executing programs to promote mental health for children, adolescents and adults, thus helping them to lead meaningful and productive lives. RAGMHI is an international body of 25 Rotarians representing five countries (Canada, USA, India, Brazil and Lebanon) with a purpose of promoting mental health globally.

This is an open invitation for membership to RAGMHI. Presently, membership is free and open to all Rotarians, their family members, Rotary program participants and alumni. Contact us if you would like to join. To help create a resource pool of running projects that could act as models for fellow clubs to emulate, please share your club or district’s mental health projects with us.

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Rotary continues to fight diseases and make strides in health care

By John Wahlund, Area of Focus Manager for Maternal and Child Health & Disease Prevention and Treatment

This year, 2015 ushered out the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and introduced the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the period 2015-2030. Rotary International’s Area of Focus goals and policies in Disease Prevention and Treatment were a direct response to and reflection of the MDGs. The new SDGs are broader and more expansive in international development, and were developed in a much more inclusive and consensus building environment than the MDGs.

UN Sustainable Development Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, addresses how we could create a healthier world through disease prevention and treatment. Learn more about the specific targets that fall under this area. Within this area, Rotary International’s commitment, accomplishments and ever expanding scope of health care projects and programs has never been stronger. We remain completely aligned with and committed to successful achievement of the SDGs.

There has been a dramatic shift in morbidity and mortality rates in the last fifteen years reflecting a significant decrease in sickness and death from communicable diseases; correspondingly there has been a significant increase in sickness and death from non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs include cancers, heart diseases, diabetes and neurological diseases. They have become the greatest threats and equalizers in global health and account for 80% of all illness and death around the world. As life expectancy has risen around the world, so has the prospect of acquiring what used to be regarded as ‘first world’ diseases.

During a subnational polio immunization day, a Rotarian visits a children's center in an underdeveloped urban neighborhood outside Lucknow, India.
During a subnational polio immunization day, a Rotarian visits a children’s center in an underdeveloped urban neighborhood outside Lucknow, India.

Rotary’s strengths and accomplishments in the area of disease prevention and treatment include:

  • PolioPlus has a strongly developed Rotarian program model in place. This regional and community level model can be utilized extensively in all disease prevention and treatment initiatives throughout the world.
  • Rotarians have a proven track record of partnering with local governments and organization in projects addressing HIV/AIDS, TB, malaria, polio, dengue and other communicable diseases. These targets remain paramount on the UN SDG agenda.
  • The Rotary Foundation has funded almost 2,000 projects and programs to build healthier communities all across the world. The Rotarian network remains active in their communities, which presents potential for expanding and scaling up focused programs that emphasize strategic partnering with governments and the private and NGO sectors.
  • Foundation grant activity in disease prevention and treatment demonstrates that Rotarians have broad sector interests and strong local impact. Differing regionally, priority areas of Rotarian involvement include; medical and dental equipment, blindness prevention and treatment, public health and sanitation activities, and nutrition and childhood disease projects. Other successful and popular project types address rehabilitation and physical therapy, malaria, HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases, lifesaving and congenital surgeries, and large scale prevention and treatment projects targeting diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
  • The greatly increasing use of Rotarian Vocational Training Teams are providing health care training and provision of on-site services in many areas of disease treatment throughout the world.

This broad menu of activities can be harnessed into larger more focused projects utilizing existing Rotarian resources such as Rotarian Action Groups and developing new regional partnerships to create a healthier world.

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Rotary’s commitment to building healthier communities

By Azka Asif, RI Programs staff

Rotary’s commitment to creating a healthier world goes beyond the eradication of polio. Although our top priority is ending polio, Rotary members are devoted to fighting all diseases and providing services to the one in six people in the world who can’t afford to pay for health care. Rotary works to improve and expand access to low-cost and free health care in underdeveloped areas, while educating communities to help prevent the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. Many Rotary health projects focus on ensuring medical training facilities are located where the workforce lives.

This December, Rotary Disease Treatment and Prevention Month, we’re celebrating our commitment to building healthier communities. Here are just a few examples of club service projects working to prevent and treat diseases around the world:

  • In partnership with the Gazi University Neurology Department, the Rotary Club of
    Ankara-Kizilay (Turkey) works to provide support and treatment to multiple sclerosis patients who suffer from balance and gait disorders by providing world-class quality and effective rehabilitation services.
  • The Rotary Club of Islamabad (Bangladesh) provides free medical consultations, along with free medicine to nearly 50 needy people every Friday in a slum near Chittagong.
  • The Rotaract Club of Entebbe (Uganda) carried out HIV testing and counseling in an effort to raise awareness and educate the local community on how to prevent the spread of the HIV virus and other STIs.
  • In an effort to raise awareness for diabetes, the Rotary Club of New Owerri (Nigeria) led a public awareness campaign in their local community. They conducted health screenings, provided nutritional counseling, held lectures on how to prevent and treat diabetes, and provided food supplements to diabetic patients. More than 300 people were in attendance and nearly 230 individuals were screened.
  • On World Disability Day (3 December) the Rotary Club of Dibrugarh organized a special magic show for the children of Ashwash, a school for differently abled children. This was a chance for club members to spread smiles and allow these children to experience something different as many of them had never seen a magic show before.
  • Dengue is mosquito-borne viral disease common in tropical areas that affects nearly 1 billion people each year. Due to high incident of dengue cases in Barangay Pasong Tamo, Quezon City, the Rotary Club of Diliman North (Philippines) conducted an Anti-Dengue fumigation project in the community to help stop the spread of the disease.

Take action during the month of December by supporting health education programs, helping immunize against infectious diseases, and supporting education and training of health care workers through scholarships, stipends and public recognition. We encourage you to check back here for tips, resources, and inspirational success stories to help plan club and district health care projects. Add your voice to the conversation using the blog’s commenting feature and share how your club supports health care initiatives on Rotary Showcase.

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Rotary Family Health Days bring preventative health services to millions of African citizens

By Marion Bunch, Founder & CEO of Rotarians for Family Health & AIDS Prevention

It’s so hard for me to believe that in its fifth year of service, the Rotary Family Health Days campaign will reach a milestone goal: thousands of Rotarians and our partners will have served over a million citizens in Africa with free, educational health screens, and lifesaving immunizations for children.

I remember the very first Rotary Family Health Days program in Uganda in 2011.  Stephen Mwanje, a Rotary leader in the region, came up with the idea of family health days because he wanted all of the clubs in his country to work together on a common cause. He approached me to enlist the help of the Rotarians for Family Health & AIDS Prevention (RFHA) Rotarian Action Group. Stephen needed help getting funding and finding partners to put together a nationwide health campaign at a hundred different sites.

bannerindex1It was a big task and I wasn’t sure we could do it. The Health Ministry of Uganda was immediately on board with the idea because they needed our help in providing health care to their citizens.  But where were we going to get the money to pay for the community mobilization costs?  We went to the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation for a grant and were thrilled when they said they’d do it! They had confidence in us because we had previously worked together on a program for orphans called the Africa Network for Children Orphaned and at Risk.  I also told them of Rotary’s expertise in mobilizing communities for the Polio Plus campaign.

Stephen and hundreds of Rotarians from Uganda kept reassuring me that they were working hard to publicize the event, gather supplies and resources organized, and there would be a big launch. When I flew over to attend the launch and work the sites, I was really worried that no one would show up!  Gosh, was I surprised when 38,000 people came in just one day to get tested for communicable diseases and get their babies immunized. That’s when I knew we had a winning program that could readily be repeated.

After we launched the program in Uganda, our Rotarian Action Group team went to Nigeria to work with Rotarian leaders and piloted the program in 2012. The countries of Ghana and South Africa joined us in 2013.

Even though I became an AIDS warrior as a result of losing my son Jerry to AIDS in 1994, I never dreamed in a million years that by working with Rotarians around the world, we would make a real difference in the lives of over one million people!

Video shows Rotary Family Health Days held in Ghana this past October with nearly 40,000 benefiting from treatment and evaluation!

Watch a documentary to learn more about the incredible impact that Marion and Rotarians for Family Health & AIDS Prevention (RFHA) are making through Rotary Family Health Days. Interested in joining RFHA or partnering on Rotary Family Health Days in 2016? Contact RFHA to learn more.

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