This year Rotary Family Health Days (RFHD) celebrated its 10th year with a hybrid/online event on Friday the 5th of November 2021. Speakers at this Rotary Family Health Days event in South Africa included Jennifer Jones (2022/23 Rotary International President) and the South African Minister of Health, The Honourable Dr Joe Phaahla. During this webinar, Dr Joe Phaahla also unveiled the World AIDS Day 2021 theme alongside messages of support by some of the RFHD partners: SANAC (South African National AIDS Council), RFHA, Civil Society, and the Disability Sector.
RFHD is the signature programme of the Rotary Action Group for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA) and is currently in its 10th year. This unique programme, which is currently active in nine countries, with at least three more countries set to launch in the next six months, provides comprehensive and preventative health programmes that build healthier communities.
With an estimated 3,5 billion people who don’t have access to affordable healthcare, the vision of RFHA (Rotary Action Group for Family Health and AIDS Prevention) is clear: to save and improve lives around the world. Working across Africa and India, RFHA provides free preventative healthcare resources and services with a direct impact on strengthening the existing healthcare infrastructure at community level.
Key to its success are the public/private partnerships that RFHA builds between governments, the private sector, NGOs, the media, communities, and Rotary clubs and districts on the ground. By mobilising a network of hundreds of Rotary clubs across the various districts within each country, Rotary club members work towards the same goal; to bring healthcare services to hundreds of thousands of people from communities who otherwise can’t access them.
Professional monitoring and evaluation have tracked the success of Rotary Family Health Days since its inception in 2011. To date, more than 5 million people have been reached and over 11 million free health services provided. These include educational and referral services for follow-up care, testing for a variety of diseases including HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Blood Pressure, TB, Hepatitis B and C, Diabetes, and some Cancers. Also provided are immunisations for Polio and Measles, Vitamin A supplements, deworming, hygiene packs, dental cleaning supplies, and male and female condoms. Many locations have add-on services such as dental examinations, optometry, audiology, and mental health counselling. Furthermore, the programme stays abreast of global and local health regulations and challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, and rights facing Civil Society and the Disability Sector.
The Launch of Rotary Family Health Days 2021
“Rotary Family Health Day remains one of the most unique conduits to reach disadvantaged communities with quality health services, especially people with disabilities,” said Dr Thembisile Xulu, CEO of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC). “In remote areas, people with disabilities bear the brunt of the lack of adequate social, economic and health services and the advent of COVID-19 has exacerbated the situation. RFHD gives us an opportunity to change that narrative by ensuring that access to quality care, treatment and support is improved”
“Having a disability or being differently-abled should not hinder you from exercising or staying active,” said Sinayo Mukume, an ambassador of the HER Voice Fund, a new Rotary Family Health Days programme partner. “I was a wheelchair basketball player, which helped me to stay active and healthy, but there are many things you can do to achieve this if you are a person with a disability. But remember, it is always best to consult a doctor or physician to make sure that you are not putting strain on your body.”
Being educated, advised, and informed about your health and body is of utmost importance, not only for your own well-being, but for the sake of your loved ones. Rotary Family Health Day 2021 was livestreamed on Friday, November 2021 from 08h00 to 14h00. Watch the recording of the RFHD webinar here.
Eighteen months ago, the world ground to a halt, and for one brief moment, Rotary paused along with it. In March 2020, the magazine stopped the presses on its May issue in order to include a newly written message from 2019-20 RI President Mark Maloney.
“Throughout early March, the news about COVID-19 became increasingly serious throughout the world,” he explained. “We asked all Rotary districts and clubs to curb face-to-face meetings until further notice and to hold virtual meetings instead.” Then Maloney kicked things back into gear: “The world is changing rapidly,” he wrote, “and so must Rotary. Our adaptability and strength will help us navigate this experience.”
Rotarians everywhere responded to Maloney’s call to action. In some cases, they had even anticipated it. By the time that May issue landed in mailboxes, many clubs had already shifted to virtual meetings, and members worldwide were providing on-the-ground support for health care workers, communities in need, and the people most susceptible to the pandemic’s reach.
In June 2020, we published our first roundup of COVID-related projects, and in July, 2020-21 RI President Holger Knaack noted in his first magazine message that “every great challenge is an opportunity for renewal and growth.” In that same issue, we showed how Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative had been drawing on their experience to respond to the pandemic, and in August, we told personal stories from 10 frontline workers around the world — nine Rotarians and one Rotaractor who, despite the grave risk to their own health, stepped forward to offer assistance, comfort, and inspiration.
Tapping into decades of experience in bringing polio to the brink of eradication, Rotary members worldwide are helping health authorities communicate lifesaving information about COVID-19 and vaccination, combatting misinformation, supporting fair and equal access to vaccines, and curbing the spread of the virus by donating protective gear and other supplies to clinics and hospitals that are under strain.
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