Disease Prevention and Treatment Month


December 2016 – Governor’s Message

The work of Rotary begins in the community, and every community has its own unique needs and concerns. While we serve in countless ways, through The Rotary Foundation we’ve focused our efforts in six key areas to maximize our impact. These areas encompass some of the world’s most critical and widespread humanitarian needs, and we have a proven record of success in addressing them. One of them is Disease Prevention and Treatment.

Rotary's top priority is the eradication of polio, but our members take on far greater responsibilities to fight disease. We set up health camps and training facilities in undeveloped countries and in communities struggling with HIV/AIDS and Malaria. We design and build the infrastructure for doctors, nurses, governments, and partners to reach the one in six people in the world who can't afford to pay for health care.

Disease prevention and treatment takes on many forms, from supporting studies to helping immunize people to improving drinking water and the sanitation infrastructure. The world relies on Rotary to tackle these global challenges, and to set an example for others to follow.

Here are some suggestions on how Rotary clubs, Districts and our service partners can address these needs both locally and internationally:

  • Support health education programs that explain how diseases are spread and promote ways to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • Help immunize people against infectious diseases.
  • Support continuing education and training for health workers through scholarships, and public recognition.
  • Improve and expand access to low-cost and free health care in underserved areas.
  • Improve sanitation facilities by providing toilets and latrines that flush into a sewer or safe enclosure.
  • Promote good hygiene habits through education. Proper hand washing with soap and water can reduce diarrhea cases by up to 35 percent.
  • Develop or support programs that provide immunizations and antibiotics. Measles, malaria, pneumonia, AIDS, and diarrheal diseases are the leading causes of death in children under five.

Prevention Is Better Than Cure - Healthy Everyday Habits

The Department of Health has some tips for healthy habits that we can all use or teach others to prevent infectious diseases from spreading:

  • Handle and prepare food safely.
  • Wash hands often.
  • Clean and disinfect commonly used surfaces.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or, (if you must) your sleeve.
  • Don’t share personal items.
  • Get vaccinated.
  • Avoid touching wild animals.
  • Stay home when sick.

End Trachoma 2020

I have often conveyed to you RI President John Germ’s comments in relation to opportunities. In particular, he believes that the only difference between a small opportunity and a great one, is what you do with it. At the District 9800 Conference in Shepparton the plan is to officially announce an exciting project being initiated by the Rotary Club of Melbourne - to eliminate trachoma from Australia. This will be a ‘GREAT’ opportunity for Rotary Clubs around Australia to join together, eliminate trachoma, and celebrate 100 years of Rotary in Australia.

Trachoma is an eye infection that can diminish eyesight or, in extreme situations, totally blind the sufferer. Australia is the only developed country in the world where trachoma is still endemic. A project team has been established, liaising with government, non-government and other organisations working in the field, while scoping potential avenues of funding and resourcing. Trachoma is found only in remote indigenous communities, and a number have already been visited to inform them of the project. The incoming RI President Ian Riseley and all Districts in Australia showed strong enthusiasm and support for this initiative at the 2016 Rotary Institute. This is a way for all Rotarians in Australia to improve the lives of our own people, and raise Rotary’s profile.




Rotary’s Unique Structure – Together We Can Do Anything!

In preparation for delivering the 1994 Sir Angus Mitchell Oration, Rotary Club of Melbourne member, David Wittner visited the State Library of Victoria with the objective of looking through the substantial material and memorabilia that Sir Angus donated to the library. David was looking for some insight into Sir Angus’s hopes and aspirations for the Rotary world in the years that led up to his year of office as World President in 1948/49, and in the period that succeeded it. The personal letters exchanged between Sir Angus and Paul Harris, and the many other leaders of Rotary enabled David to conclude that the Angus Mitchell philosophy for Rotary's growth could be achieved by the acceptance of six guidelines, one of which was “That Rotary could embrace projects that would not otherwise be tackled on a global scale by individual nations, simply because the day would come when Rotary's unique structure would enable it to”.

How insightful it was for Sir Angus Mitchell to see Rotary’s potential thirty before another Australian RI President, Sir Clem Renouf commenced a polio immunization pilot program in the Philippines. In 1985 Rotary officially launched the global campaign to Eradicate Polio, using Rotary’s huge, powerful network and The Rotary Foundation to do what no individual nation could. The work of our Foundation never stops and the network of Rotary is as powerful today as it ever has been.  With these resources working together, we can do anything!

Neville John

District Governor 2016-2017



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