Congrats Rtns of
#Nigeria on being declared polio free by WHO &having names removed from list of endemic countries.@Rotary@EndPolioNow
I am pleased to announce that His Holiness Pope Francis will officiate at a Mass to Rotarians at St. Peter’s Square, Rome, on 30 April. The Jubilee of Rotarians is a special event hosted by Rotary District 2080 and the Vatican. We will have 8,000 seats reserved for Rotary club members, as well as friends and family. I believe this event is a tremendous honor that will raise Rotary’s status across so much of the world, and it should bring us all great happiness to be a part of it, regardless of our own religions and beliefs. You can find more information and register here: http://buff.ly/1PgsL1G
Pope tells me vaccination against Polio very important. Urge Rtns to continue . May Godbless Rtns for the work they do. Ask Rtns pray for me
May is Youth Service Month! And in over 20,000 Interact clubs around the world Rotary's young leaders are working together to build a more peaceful world.
President K R Ravindran’s Address at the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore Closing the Jubilee Celebrations.
I am very grateful to all of the Rotarians here in Italy , especially DG ‘Pino’ Perronne and the Rotarians of District 2080, for organizing not only a memorable, but a historic event for us in Rotary: one that affirms the belief that we share with Pope Francis, in the importance of humanitarian service—for which the need is more vital, more relevant, and more universal than ever before.
As we began this weekend together on Friday, with a panel discussion on the refugee crisis, I was reminded of a story about a young emigrant family from Italy:
Rosa and Giovanni Bergoglio, and their six children. Fleeing Fascism here in Italy, in 1927 they sold their house and their coffee shop and bought steerage tickets on the Principessa Mafalda, bound for a new life in Argentina.
But the sale of their assets was delayed, and they had to change their tickets for another ship, sailing a month later.
Waiting in Italy for their departure, word reached them that the Mafalda had sunk—taking with it nearly all of the hundreds of passengers in steerage.
Had the Bergoglio family not missed their departure, had they lost their lives at sea as so many other refugees have more recently lost theirs, none of us would be here this evening.
For the oldest son of Rosa and Giovanni was Mario, who grew up to be the father of Jorge Mario Bergoglio—now known, of course, as His Holiness Pope Francis.
In the months leading up to this event, I heard from many Rotarians, and even some outside of Rotary, who questioned me regarding our decision to hold a Rotary event on St. Peter’s Square at the invitation of Pope Francis.
After all we are not a religious organization, we have no religious affiliation, what are we doing having a Rotary event that involves a Catholic Mass?
To all of them, I have said and I say to all of you again, that what makes Rotary unique is that it is a framework in which we serve others — not with, or through, or despite our religion — but in parallel to it.
In Rotary, you can have a dozen faiths in one room, and all are respected. With one caveat that we will not allow religion to split us.
We do not isolate ourselves from religion, but instead welcome adherents of all faiths.
My Rotary club in Sri Lanka has a Christmas party every year, at which the Hindus and the Muslims are just as welcome, and which we enjoy every bit as much, as the Christians.
This is exactly and absolutely the spirit of Rotary—that by sharing our traditions, by welcoming each other into our lives, we only strengthen the bonds of service, and our common humanity.
As a Hindu I have been honored and deeply touched to have had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis earlier today, and to have heard him tell DG Pino and me that we must continue with our immunization until Polio is eradicated and that may God bless us and in fact he asked us to pray for him.
It has given me even more pride in Rotary’s past, even more faith in its present, and even more optimism about its future, than ever before.
It has truly been a blessed day together.
And as we leave this evening, we know that our paths will cross again as He wills;
Ad we know that whatever your tradition, whatever your faith, your opportunity in Rotary, and your challenge, are the same: to put Service Above Self, and Be A Gift to the World.
RI President K.R. Ravindran is greeted by Pope Francis following the Jubilee Audience at the Vatican in St. Peter's Square on April 30, 2016. Photo courtesy of the Vatican.
Thousands of Rotary members, motivated by a special invitation from Pope Francis, gathered at the Vatican in Rome on Saturday to celebrate a message of compassion, inclusiveness, and service to humanity.
At midmorning, the group -- numbering some 9,000 members from 80 countries -- made its way through the congested streets of Rome, past the tight security surrounding St. Peter's Square, and settled into the area reserved for Rotary in front of St. Peter's Basilica for the Jubilee audience.
Francis, a 79-year-old Argentine, urged the crowd of more than 100,000, which included members of the police and armed forces from around the world, "to build a culture of peace, security, and solidarity around the world."
His message of peace resonated with Rotary members, including R. Asokan from Tamil Nadu, India. "His message about peace is about accepting. Rotary, which accepts all walks of life, can carry his message to all our clubs, therefore carrying his message to all our communities," says Asokan.
Though Francis is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, his words often reach a wider audience. A poll published earlier this year found him to be one of the most liked and trusted world leaders.
That's what made this event at the Vatican so appealing, says Adriana Lanting, who traveled from California, USA, to attend. "To have such a transcending figure together with a transcending organization like Rotary in the same place is something I just couldn't miss," says Lanting, a member of the Rotary Club of Long Beach.
Madrid Zimmerman, another Long Beach member, isn't Catholic but says Francis has a knack for touching people's hearts regardless of where they're from. "Rotary has the same effect," she adds. "We may have different ways of expressing it, but our [Rotary] action in helping others comes from the same place.
"This event is a reminder that we only have one goal and that's to give service to those who need it. I think that's the message I want to bring back to my club," Zimmerman says.
After the Jubilee audience, Francis met with a small delegation of Rotary members led by RI President K.R. Ravindran. The pope spoke to Ravindran about the importance of vaccinating children against polio and encouraged Rotary to continue its efforts against this disease.
"I have been honored and deeply touched to have had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis earlier today, and to have heard him tell us to continue our fight toward polio eradication," says Ravindran, who is Hindu. "It has given me even more pride in Rotary's past, even more faith in its present, and even more optimism about its future, than ever before.".......
April 24-30 is World Immunization Week and we at A Plus are proud to present a five-part series that celebrates the incredible impact vaccines have had on global health.
One of the biggest misconceptions about vaccinations is that they exist to pad the wallets of pharmaceutical companies. While it's true that vaccines aren't free, they're an incredible bargain compared to the costs of getting sick.
Being sick is expensive. In addition to the cost of seeing the doctor, running tests, getting medications, and a whole host of other direct fees, there are indirect expenses, including lost productivity from missed days at work and the effect of not drawing a salary.
Researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that every dollar spent on vaccines saves $16 in associated costs of being sick. When the expanded economic impact is taken into consideration, the figure jumps up to $44.
This might sound a bit abstract to those of us privileged enough to have regular access to health care, but vaccines are absolute game-changers for those living in less-developed areas of the world.
There are many clinics in this world that have too many patients with too few resources to care for everyone adequately. By reducing the number of patients with vaccine-preventable diseases like polio, measles, or pertussis, the dedicated medical professionals working in these facilities can instead focus on necessities such as prenatal care, managing HIV infections, cancer treatments, and others.
In this sense, vaccinations aren't just useful in regards to the diseases they prevent, but for overall health and well-being.
The same study from Johns Hopkinsfound that when looking at 94 mid-low income countries, $34 billion will be spent on vaccines from 2011-2020. Sure, that is a lot, but it will save $586 billion in medical fees.
When all of the other economic savings are factored in, it totals a staggering $1.53 trillion.
Instead of asking whether or not we can afford to vaccinate everyone, we need to understand that we can’t afford not to.
Vaccinations have been shown to be safe and effective over and over again. Preventing infectious disease not only improves the quality of life of people around the globe, but it makes complete financial sense as well.
Join the fight to eradicate polio by donating to Rotary International here. For every dollar that comes in, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will donate $2, which triples the power of the contribution.
Check out the other stories in our World Immunization Week series:
With just nine cases of the virus so far this year – in Pakistan and Afghanistan – the WHO is confident the battle against polio is nearly won
The World Health Organisation is confident polio is in its dying days and could be eradicated within 12 months, despite challenges in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the virus is still endemic and vaccination campaigns are sometimes targeted by extremists.
If the virus is wiped out, polio will become only the second human-hosted virus to be eradicated since the end of smallpox in 1980.
“We absolutely need to keep the pressure up, but we think we could reach the point where we have truly interrupted the transmission at the end of the year or the end of the low season [winter] next year,” said Michel Zaffran, the WHO’s director of polio eradication.
“It is going to be an extraordinary achievement. This has been an ongoing effort since 1988. We started with 150 countries and we are now just down to two countries and nine cases [so far this year],” said Zaffran.
Since the start of the global polio eradication initiative in 1988, transmission of the wild polio virus, which used to paralyse hundreds of thousands of children every year, has ceased in all countries apart from Afghanistan and Pakistan.
There have been false dawns in this battle, such as in 2013, when the virus re-emerged in Nigeria, Syria and Iraq, where it had previously been eradicated. All three are now free from polio once again.
The WHO is concentrating its efforts in three areas known to be reservoirs for the virus – the Pakistani city of Karachi and two cross-border corridors, around Quetta Block and in the Peshawar district.
Zaffran said 47 districts in Afghanistan have been prioritised for vaccination and surveillance, of which 32 are under control of anti-government forces.
“In these cases it is difficult to reach the children. We are vaccinating at transit points but we are still confident, because we’ve only had two reported cases this year so far compared to 22 [total cases] last year. We know when polio strikes because when a child is paralysed, the parents seek help and when they cannot find it locally they move,” said Zaffran.......
The Rotarian Action Group for Population and Development (RFPD) serves as a resource for clubs and districts around the world in the area of maternal and child health. The most challenging aspect of RFPD’s work is the simple fact that this isn’t an issue that can be resolved in merely five or ten years. It’s an ongoing effort with limitless opportunities to impact women and girls worldwide.
RFPD has established and will continue to maintain a database of population based projects. A number of projects have already been completed and provide direct benefit to less developed parts of the world. Our pilot project Improvement of Maternal Health (2005-2010) in northern Nigeria, funded in part by the Rotary Foundation, the German government (BMZ) and the Aventis Foundation, was a comprehensive approach and has been scaled up in three additional states of Nigeria.
Our 5-year-pilot project focused on the two northern states of Nigeria, Kaduna and Kano, with a target group of five million women. Our goal was to identify main risk factors for pregnant women and address them through advocacy and raising awareness at the grass roots level. The elements of our comprehensive approach included radio segments, training of healthcare personnel, delivery of medical equipment, improving the quality of structure and process of healthcare facilities and providing routine HIV/AIDS testing to prevent mother-to-child transmission.
Improving the quality of structure and process in hospitals is a prerequisite to improve the health of women and children. Our activities were aimed to establish an Institute of Quality Assurance in Obstetrics by:
In addition, RFPD initiated and supported clubs working on a project in Pakistan that addresses family planning within its borders. Pakistan’s opportunities for education, employment and access to good health care are being challenged due to the country’s continuously growing population. Approximately one fourth of Pakistani women wish to delay the birth of their next child, and despite considerable demand for family planning, lack of services and contraceptives only contribute to the rising population crisis. This project is also being replicated in Ethiopia.
The main objective of RFPD in the coming year is to communicate the importance of sustainability. While many clubs and districts implement meaningful and worthwhile projects, they are unable to sustain the projects long term due to limited revenue streams and limited volunteers. RFPD has made it our goal to lead by example by ensuring that our projects are sustainable long term.
- Melissa Willis, Executive Director for Rotarian Action Group for Population and Development (RFPD) in Rotary Service Connections
Jeri Fujimoto, governor-elect of District 5150, displays some of the gifts delivered by the team of Rotary members.
Along with 40 friends and supporters of the H2OpenDoors project, I took part in an eight-day exploratory expedition to Cuba on 8 April.
Members of six Rotary clubs in District 5150 and their friends and family joined The Bay Area Cuba Community Alliance, starting on the far eastern side of the island for a visit and site survey at a small village in Granma province. Each person presented a suitcase of donations to the Town Delegate in an emotional ceremony.
Baseball equipment, animal husbandry tools, school supplies, and children’s clothing were among the gifts for over 550 residents. The town had been home to one of the best community baseball teams in Cuba, but they have been unable to play for over two years for lack of equipment. After a great ball game, the town elders hosted us for a lunch feast.
H2OpenDoors will return in December to install a SunSpring water purification plant to provide safe drinking water for the entire community, and an additional system in a similar community near Havana.
Following the visit to the rural colonies, our group hosted a cocktail gala at Havana’s iconic Hotel Nacional for Cuban entrepreneurs to start a dialogue about Rotary and the recent visit by U.S. President Barak Obama’s administration, and to build new friendships. The 120 participants broke out into four focus groups for lively discussions about the arts, education, water and infrastructure, and businesses.
Another 40 people will be able to join H2OpenDoors between 8-17 December for a similar schedule, including a day at the Havana International Jazz Festival. For more information go to www.H2OpenDoors.org or contact me at jon@H2OpenDoors.org
About the author: Jon Kaufman owns KL&P Marketing, a large agency in the Silicon Valley. He has been a member of the Peninsula Sunrise Rotary Club in Redwood City, California, since 2012. Jon started H2openDoors as a Rotary project to provide drinking water technology to the poorest villages and schools who spend up to a third of their daily income on bottled water.
- Rotary Voices
Next week marks the beginning of the largest and fastest globally coordinated rollout of a vaccine into routine immunisation programs in history. Between 17th April and 1st May, 155 countries and territories around the world will stop using the trivalent oral polio vaccine (tOPV), which protects against all three strains of wild poliovirus, and replace it with bivalent OPV (bOPV), which protects against the remaining two wild polio strains, types 1 and 3. This effort will provide better protection for children against polio, particularly those most vulnerable to infection.
This transition, referred to as the global vaccine “switch”, is possible because type 2 wild polio has been eradicated. The switch has been recommended by the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation and endorsed by the World Health Assembly as a critical component of the polio endgame strategy.
“We’re closer than ever to ending polio worldwide, which is why we are able to move forward with the largest and fastest globally synchronised vaccine switch ever,” said Michel Zaffran, Director of Polio Eradication at the World Health Organization. “It is a massive undertaking, but it is testimony to how much progress is being made toward achieving a lasting polio-free world and to the commitment of all countries to make this dream a reality.”
The oral polio vaccine (OPV) has been used to stop polio in most of the world. On very rare occasions in under-immunised populations, the live weakened virus contained in OPV can mutate and cause circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses (cVDPV). More than 90% of cVDPV cases in the last 10 years have been caused by the type 2 vaccine strain. Withdrawing tOPV and replacing it in routine immunisation programmes with bOPV will eliminate the risks associated with the type 2 vaccine strain and, just as importantly, boost protection against the two remaining wild strains of the virus.
The switch must be globally synchronised because if some countries continue to use tOPV it could increase the risk of the spread of type 2 poliovirus to those no longer using tOPV. The switch is the first major step toward the eventual removal of all OPV after wild polio transmission has been stopped.
“This is an extremely important milestone in achieving a polio free world,” said Reza Hossaini, Chief of Polio at UNICEF. “Hundreds of thousands of vaccinators and health workers have been trained for the switch to happen quickly and effectively, so that children everywhere can be protected from this devastating disease.“
To ensure that the switch takes place as planned, thousands of independent monitors will confirm the absence of tOPV at public and private service facilities and cold chain stores.
“The switch is a massive undertaking and is only possible due to the tremendous collaboration of country governments, Global Polio Eradication Initiative partners, and the independent monitors. It is another example of the programme moving in the right direction toward global eradication,” said Jay Wenger, Director of the Polio Programme at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In countries at higher-risk of a polio outbreak, a dose of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) has been added to routine immunisation schedules, in addition to bOPV, to further boost immunity. To protect against the very small risk of an outbreak of cVDPV type 2 after the switch, a global stockpile of monovalent OPV (mOPV) type 2 is ready to be dispatched if an outbreak occurs.
“The stockpile of mOPV type 2 is like an insurance policy in case there is an outbreak,” said Stephen Cochi, Senior Adviser to the Director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s Global Immunisation Division. “A lot of time has been spent evaluating the possible risks and minimizing them.”
The switch is a significant milestone in the effort to achieve a polio-free world. In 2015, there were fewer cases reported in fewer countries than ever before. This year, the focus is on reaching every child with the polio vaccine and stopping the virus in its final strongholds. In order for that to happen, donors must continue to invest in the eradication effort.
“When Rotary started the campaign to end polio, more than 350,000 children were paralysed every year by this deadly virus,” said Michael K. McGovern, Chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee. “This switch is an important step, but we must maintain our support until every last child is safe from this disease.”
Click here to read a further comment from Rotary member Judith Diment, Chair of the Polio Eradication Advocacy Task Force and Member of International PolioPlus Committee.
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