Many readers are probably unaware that over 400 million people in the world today can’t afford, or don’t have access to, basic health care. Rotary believes good health care is everyone’s right and that is why we are dedicated to fighting and preventing disease. Disease Prevention and Treatment is one of Rotary’s Six Area of Focus. Disease and illness results in pain and injury. Prolonged severe illness may result in loss of employment and income. It affects families. It affects quality of life. With Christmas approaching we should all give thanks that we live in a country free from many of the diseases that plague other countries.
Rotarians are committed to helping people live healthy lives and that is why December is Disease Prevention and Treatment Month. Our signature project is Polio Eradication. But polio is not the only disease or aspect of healthy living on which Rotarians have spent their time and energies. Disease prevention and treatment takes on many forms, from supporting studies, to helping immunize people, to improving drinking water and the sanitation infrastructure. The world relies on Rotary to tackle these global challenges, and to set an example for others to follow. For example Rotarians Against Malaria (RAM) was launched in 1995 in Tulagi, Solomon Islands, by the Rotary Club of Honiara and Bribie Island's own Rotary District 9600.
RAM comes under the umbrella of Rotary Australia World Community Service and the volunteers work to eliminate malaria. In the 1900s, malaria was pandemic in the world. Just fifteen years ago, malaria killed a child every 30 seconds. Can you only imagine the outcry if a child in Australia died every 30 seconds from a preventable disease? Today, thanks to the efforts of Rotary, the number of deaths has fallen by 60 percent.
Another way in which Rotarians have elected to provide attention to an area of disease concern is through a Rotarian Action Group (RAG). RAG is a voluntary organisation that functions independently of Rotary International. Each RAG establishes its own rules, dues requirements, and administrative structure. There is a RAG for Alzheimers/Dementia, Blindness, Hearing Loss, Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Mental Health, Dental and Polio Survivors and associates.
Further examples of Rotary Disease Prevention efforts are:
Providing clean water: Rotary has worked with partners to provide more than 80 percent of Ghana’s people with clean water to fight Guinea worm disease; and
Reducing HIV infection: In Liberia, Rotary members are helping women get tested for HIV early in their pregnancies. They used prenatal care to reduce new HIV infections in children by 95 percent over two years.
At the time of writing and researching this article a friend and fellow Bribie Rotarian was diagnosed with a very rare fatal disease. He was told there was nothing more the Doctors could do and he died a week later. I dedicate this article to my friend and hope that by writing articles such as this we can raise awareness and support of the work Rotary does in the area of disease prevention and treatment. My prayers also go out to all in our society who suffer from such diseases.