Rotarians are part of a global network and are, not surprisingly, committed to promoting global health. Three of Rotary’s six focus areas: (1) Disease prevention and treatment; (2) water and sanitation; and (3) maternal and child health contribute to global health – although you could also make an argument (and I would) that the remaining three focus areas of (4) education and literacy; (5) economic and community development, and (6) peace and conflict prevention/resolution are also important for global health.
The Rotary Foundation has funded almost 2,000 health projects to date in communities around the world. Rotary’s signature initiative, and one tantalizingly close to completion, is polio eradication. Rotary has learned a great deal from its polio efforts over the years – including the importance of partnerships not just with clubs but with local and international non-governmental organizations, civil society, governments, multilateral organizations and the media.
Rotary Action Groups (RAGs) are one way that Rotarians organize themselves to respond to specific challenges, health-related and otherwise. Fifteen of 26 RAGs focus directly on disease prevention and treatment. Some of these action groups have been around for a very long time while others, such as Addiction Prevention and Mental Health Initiatives are rather new.
Rotarian Action Group for Diabetes provides service through a strong commitment to education, identification, and treatment of diabetes, especially among children in developing countries.
Food Plant Solutions Rotarian Action Group helps people, particularly in developing countries, learn about and grow the best local foods to match their nutritional needs as a sustainable solution for hunger and malnutrition.
If you are interested in learning more about what Rotary is or does, the global health programs it supports is a great place to start. The RAGS can be a useful resource regardless for anyone. Take a look at the Rotary Disease Prevention and Treatment Blog which features efforts to fix cleft lips and palates, organize Family Health Days, prevent and treat chronic disease (e.g, diabetes) and infectious disease (e,g, malaria) and promote access to mental health care.
Have questions, comments, or ideas about Rotary’s global health engagement? Contact me directly or tweet at @bryan_schaaf. Thanks!