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!

Rotary’s commitment to creating a healthier world

By Rotary Service and Engagement Staff 

Rotary members are committed to fighting and preventing diseases. In fact, 15 of our 26 Rotarian Action Groups (RAGs) are focused on disease prevention and treatment. Rotarian Action Groups help Rotary clubs and districts plan and carry out community development and humanitarian service projects. Here are a few examples of RAGs whose members are committed to applying their expertise to fighting disease:

  • The Alzheimer’s / Dementia Rotarian Action Group (ADRAG) aims to help those who face the challenge of dealing with family members and citizens that are afflicted with Alzheimer’s and/or dementia. ADRAG is involved in various projects and initiatives; they are currently working with 21 districts. Read about their work.
  • Rotarians for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA) helps clubs and districts plan and implement large scale projects that improve lives and provide access to health-related education, preventative health care, and resources for treatment. Their signature Rotary Family Health Days program promotes disease prevention and treatment by implementing a massive, annual campaign across hundreds of sites in four countries in Africa and in India that provides free health care services to thousands of people in underprivileged communities.
  • Food Plant Solutions Rotarian Action Group focuses on addressing malnutrition, hunger and food security through the use of readily available local food plants. This self-sustaining solution empowers people to understand local food plant resources and allows them to feed themselves and their families. Learn more about their work.
  • Rotarian Action Group for Diabetes assists clubs and districts on projects that provide a strong commitment to education, identification, and treatment of diabetes, especially among children in developing countries, while raising awareness of this devastating disease throughout the Rotary world. Read more.

In observance of Rotary Disease Prevention and Treatment Month in December, we encourage you to collaborate with an action group on a club or district health care project.  Download a list of all disease prevention and treatment focused action groups and make your next project more impactful.



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. 




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.



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.



Make a splash, it’s World Water Day!

By Ellina Kushnir, RI Programs staff

22 March, World Water Day, reminds us to celebrate our achievements and commit to further advancements related to accessing clean water, sanitation facilities, and employing hygienic practices. Sustainable water resources are critical to reducing poverty, improving education opportunities for youth, and alleviating health-related complications.

Today we recognize the countless hours our Rotary family dedicates to water, sanitation, and hygiene education efforts including:

While we have helped make great strides within the water and sanitation area of focus, 748 million people do not have access to an improved source of drinking water and 2.5 billion do not use an improved sanitation facility.*

Continue the #WorldWaterDay celebration by:

*March 2015 United Nations Inter-Agency on Water and Sanitation Issues

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