At the Centennial Summit in Kolkata, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan praised Rotary’s healthcare programmes and urged Rotary to be part of the PM’s Ayushman Bharat scheme. This aims at providing quality treatment to 85 crore poor people, assuring better healthcare through regular screening camps for cancer, diabetes and other lifestyle disorders. “I want Rotary to take the lead and once you come forward, many other organisations will follow. Together we can deliver to the whole world a successful model of the Health for All programme,” he said.
Recalling his association with PRID Sudarshan Agarwal, he acknowledged Rotary’s pioneering role in polio eradication across the world and particularly in India. “I take this opportunity to remember the sincere, whole-hearted and dedicated contribution of all the Rotarians of RID 3010 when we started the first PulsePolio campaign in 1994.” When he spoke about his plan to execute the campaign, “(then PM) Rajiv Gandhi was worried if we had the budget. Just then RI came to the rescue and greatly helped in promoting the campaign throughout Delhi”.
Rotary took care of the publicity. The most herculean task was to deliver the vaccines to 4,000 polio booths at 4 am. The Rotarians agreed to execute the task. “But I was not confident if they will even get up at 4’ o clock. So I had organised 400 health workers for the job, and kept government vehicles ready too. But I feel proud to say that not a single Rotarian failed in his duty in delivering the vaccines,” said the minister.
He also complimented the Rotarians for the “great work that you do, whether it is surgeries, dialysis and so many other things. You showed various success stories on your video presentation, but I can certainly say that this is only the tip of the iceberg.”
He commended Rotary’s partnership with the GoI on extending the reach of universal immunisation through Mission Indradhanush to rid India of measles, rubella, and other preventable diseases.
Earlier Session Chair RID Bharat Pandya briefed the audience about Project Postive Health, his brainchild. He underlined the importance of safeguarding people from the four main chronic illnesses — diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, kidney disease and stroke. In this modern world, as we keep chasing goals, it is equally important that we give significant time and thought to take care of our health, he said.
NCDs or non-communicable diseases are silent killers causing 55 per cent of deaths in our country. Pandya attributed two important causes to the NCDs — improper lifestyle and unhealthy food habits. He said every person should keep tab of their height, weight, blood pressure and blood sugar parameters and encouraged clubs to carry out medical camps to check these vital numbers. He commended the Rotarians for promoting the new slogan — Ek chammach kum, chaar kadam aage — urging people to consume less sugar and salt and walk at least 30 minutes a day.
Picture by Jaishree