Twenty-seven years ago I joined Rotary. On my first day, I asked a senior Rotarian about the prefix in his name — what is PP? His simple answer made me understand Rotary. He said PP was a short form for Past President; but it also clearly defines the services of Rotary… helping to lift people out of poverty; prevention of conflicts, wiping out diseases like polio, alleviation of hunger, and ultimately the promotion of peace, hygiene, health and all good things under the sky.
The well-known saying ‘Prevention is better than cure’ is a true advice to anyone who loves to lead a happy and healthy life. Rotary is a service organisation and not a 100 per cent charitable organisation. Prevention saves time, money and improves our happiness quotient and keeps us in good health. The best service of Rotary is to create awareness and take action. With support from our partners in service, Interact and Rotaract, we can jointly create and organise regular awareness campaigns on better and happy living.
For example, India is the diabetes capital of the world with more than 70 million people suffering from diabetes mellitus, the second highest number of cases after China. Recent studies show a rising diabetes epidemic across all classes, both affluent and the poor. The study reported high prevalence of diabetes, especially of undiagnosed cases, in the adult population, most of which had uncontrolled blood sugar levels. This indicates the need for systematic screening and awareness programmes to identify undiagnosed patients in the community and offer early treatment and regular follow-up.
Our Rotary clubs can organise diabetes detection camps in association with local hospitals and raise public awareness on its prevention and treatment. Let me recall how my fellow Rotarians, associated with the Lakshmi Vilas Bank, promoted an LVB-Rotary Project to serve the people of Karur. When the management of the Karur-based LVB decided to mark its 70th anniversary with a project to serve the people of Karur, affordable medical care became its choice. The Bank then approached the Rotarians of the Rotary Club of Karur who enthusiastically accepted the responsibility of running the medical centre. Since then the number of patients seeking free medical care has gone up to 100 a day, which amounts to over 300,000 patients a year. The club, with the support of LVB’s annual contribution of Rs 500,000 and matching grants from The Rotary Foundation, buys medical equipment and medicines to run the medical centre. The LVB-Rotary Medical Centre is an outstanding model of what a well-organised and efficiently run corporate–Rotary partnership can achieve. All this, thanks to the vision of the founders of the bank who laid down in the Articles of Association that one per cent of the net profit will be spent on community development, almost 100 years before the idea of CSR was born.
Let us emulate this example and strive to create greater awareness of the importance of good health and preventive care within our communities, thus demonstrating this year’s theme, Rotary: Making a Difference.
Director, Rotary International