As a second wave of the Covid pandemic threatens to sweep our zones, I recall Paul Harris’s words: “Rotary must continue to pioneer or be left in the rear of progress.” These words are as true as first spoken. Rotarians around the world have risen to the occasion and adopted, adapted and implemented new ideas, a new vision and a new Rotary. While negotiating these tough times, Rotarians have proved that ‘tough times bring out the best in Rotarians’. The many stories of hope, help and humanity of Rotarians mitigating suffering, bringing succour, meeting needs have inspired all. ‘Oh man!’ says Emerson, ‘there is no planet, sun or star which could hold you back if you know your potential.’ When faced with a challenge you discover hidden strengths you never knew existed. And Rotarians have found it. Franklin D Roosevelt said it best, ‘I see Rotary International as a generating force of incalculable value.’
This pandemic has brought forth some unintended pluses: better environment, more scientific collaborations, quicker breakthroughs, and dramatic improvements in human life thanks to new biotechnologies and better digital connectivity.
April is Maternal and Child Health (MCH) month. Maternal health refers to the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postnatal period. Each stage should be a positive experience, ensuring women and their babies reach their full potential in good health, as healthy children are more likely to become healthy adults. Child health has improved tremendously in recent decades. India’s national under-five mortality rate declined from 111 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 39 per 1,000 live births in 2018. India continues a steady march towards achieving UN’s Sustainable Development Goals related to maternal and child mortality. And yet challenges abound. Many children die from preventable diseases/conditions like malnutrition, impure water, disease and infection. Ending preventable maternal death must remain our focus.
Through Rotary we can provide critical vaccines that protect against childhood illnesses; combat malnutrition and ensure access to quality healthcare for mothers. Through VTTs for maternal health in developing countries, we’ve managed to reduce maternal mortality.
MCH requires a multipronged approach including education, nutrition, access to affordable healthcare, safe water, proper sanitation and hygiene and timely treatment. Rotary opens the opportunity to fulfill our MCH mission.
Every mother is important, every child counts.
Dr Bharat Pandya,
RI Director, 2019-21