Rotary’s $30M Drive to Fight Childhood Diseases in Africa

…. ‘Rotary Healthy Communities Challenge’ will strengthen health systems and tackle leading childhood killers: malaria, pneumonia, and diarrheal diseases in the DRC, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zambia

By Francis Maingaila

Lusaka, Zambia24, May 29, 2024 — In an ambitious effort to curb the devastating impact of malaria, pneumonia, and diarrheal diseases on children under five in sub-Saharan Africa, Rotary, alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Vision, has announced the launch of the ‘Rotary Healthy Communities Challenge’. This initiative aims to fortify community health systems and enhance disease prevention and treatment capabilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zambia.

According to a statement jointly issued by Claudia Brunner, representing Rotary, Nicole Harris, representing World Vision and the Gates Foundation, the three-year, US$30 million initiative will leverage the collective resources and expertise of Rotary, the Gates Foundation, and World Vision to support local health leadership and organizations. Rotary members will collaborate with these entities to strengthen community health systems and expand the capacity of health workers, ensuring the sustainability and effectiveness of the programs.

“Rotary is committed to strengthening health systems and combating diseases by empowering communities to use locally driven solutions that work,” stated Rotary International President Gordon McInally. “Together, with the Gates Foundation and World Vision, we will invest in proven methods to help communities provide a healthier and more hopeful future in which everyone will have the opportunity to thrive.”

The four countries were chosen based on several factors, including the high disease burden, active Rotary member engagement, partnership opportunities, and the compatibility with each country’s Ministry of Health strategies. Rotary members, in coordination with local partners and health ministries, have crafted tailored programs to meet the specific health needs of each country using an evidence-based community health worker model.

“Investing in community health workers is one of the best things we can do to bolster the fight against malaria and other preventable diseases,” said Philip Welkhoff, Director of Malaria at the Gates Foundation. “We are proud to build on our partnership with Rotary and World Vision and are confident this new initiative will help ensure that children in these four countries have the opportunity to grow up healthy and reach their full potential.”

The ‘Rotary Healthy Communities Challenge’ draws on the successful outcomes of the ‘Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia’ program, where Rotary-led efforts supported the addition of 2,500 community health workers to the national health system. This intervention significantly improved malaria diagnosis and treatment, benefiting over 1.3 million people in Zambia.

“It’s an honor to collaborate with the Rotary Foundation and the Gates Foundation to tackle these top killers of children,” said Edgar Sandoval Sr., World Vision president and CEO. “When partners join together, we can have a greater impact on helping the most vulnerable reach their full God-given potential.”

Rotary members globally are dedicated to developing and implementing sustainable, community-driven projects that address critical issues such as disease prevention, peace promotion, clean water provision, educational support, maternal and child health, economic growth, and environmental protection. Over the past century, The Rotary Foundation has distributed US $5.5 billion to enable clubs to conduct meaningful and impactful service projects.

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