by Hayley Alfers

Team effort

Working together to increase awareness

Team effort
Working together to increase awareness

Civil society, big business and the South African Government have teamed up to promote family health and create awareness around polio, HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis (TB) and non-communicable diseases by becoming involved in Rotary Family Health Days.

Rotary is a global humanitarian organisation with more than 1.2 million members in 34 000 Rotary clubs in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Rotary members are men and women who are business, professional and community leaders with a shared commitment to make the world a better place through humanitarian service. Rotary’s top priority is the global eradication of polio. 

Building on its successful collaborations for polio eradication, Rotary is forging partnerships with other established organisations to achieve common humanitarian goals in the following six areas: peace and conflict prevention/resolution; disease prevention and treatment; water and sanitation; maternal and child health; basic education and literacy; and economic and community development. 

Rotary Family Health Days (RFHD’s) are comprehensive, holistic offerings of free healthcare for parents, children, grandparents, friends and all family members in over 160 sites across the country. 

The Rotary Family Health Days programme was initially developed to address the critically important issue of HIV/Aids, but has always included other wrap around health care services. This is the first year that Rotary Family Health Days have been offered in South Africa. 

Earlier this month, approximately 4 000 Rotarians from 225 Rotary clubs managed and worked the sites to assist the medical staff and deliver services to South Africans. Rotarians For Family Health & Aids Prevention, Inc. (RFHA) – Rotary’s mobilising and implementing partner in the area of disease prevention – received an unprecedented commitment from the Department of Health (DoH), corporate giant Coca-Cola South Africa and the SABC to support the implementation of the Rotary Family Health Days (RFHDs) across the country.  

“The RFHD programme was about Rotarians taking the lead in a massive health campaign and living their motto of service above self,” says Marion Bunch, CEO of RFHA. 

“With an estimated 5.6 million people living with HIV/ Aids in South Africa in 2011, it is critically important to garner as much support as possible from not only the SA Government, but corporate partners and the media as well to address the problem and implement our prevention and control programmes.”

Over three days, testing and counselling of over 50 000 people for HIV/Aids took place, simultaneously, in all nine South African provinces. Other services included TB symptomatic screening, diabetes and blood pressure screening, polio and measles vaccinations, deworming and the dispensing of Vitamin A tablets.

“As part of the DoH’s mission to improve the health status of South African citizens through the prevention of illnesses and the promotion of healthy lifestyles, we were proud to be a part of this initiative” says Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. 

“We want to use this opportunity to continue the implementation of our polio and measles campaign roll-out. We aim to consistently improve the healthcare delivery systems in this country and we feel that the RFHD’s are the perfect vehicle to assist us in this.”

The DoH provided free medical services and brought their existing Health Counselling and Testing (HCT), and Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) and prevention of non-communicable disease campaigns to each site. 

The DoH’s monitoring and evaluation template, which will eventually be shared with the other countries involved in the Rotary Family Health Days, was also utilised.

Not only is the South Africa Government committed to improving the lives of its citizens through this partnership, but The Coca-Cola Company has also seen the RFHD as a fit for their dedication to building sustainable communities through promoting wellness and prevention and management of HIV/Aids and other non-communicable diseases such as Diabetes. 

They have been the RFHA’s primary strategic partner in the RFHDs programme since 2011, through its Coca-Cola Africa Foundation.

“We are proud to have partnered with RFHA and the DoH in promoting access to health screening services at over 160 sites across the country. We aim to invest in these initiatives because together with our partners we have a common vision of a South Africa that comprises healthy, strong and thriving communities,” says Therese Gearhart, president of the Coca-Cola South Africa. 

The company continues to be involved in various HIV/Aids care and management programmes through partnerships and works with local health authorities and experts to reach the affected communities.

National broadcaster the SABC have supported the programme by broadcasting information about the RFHDs throughout the country across all SABC television channels and radio stations in all eleven languages.

“As the national broadcaster of South Africa, we have a responsibility to the citizens of this country to bring them news and current events that directly affect them. The Rotary Family health days play an important role in delivering free and quality healthcare to thousands of people across the country,” says Hlaudi Motsoeneng, acting chief operations officer SABC.

“To get the message across effectively, we pledged to share information about these days with all our listeners and viewers”.

Other partners to the Rotary Family Health Days include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID (agencies of the US Government who fund HIV/Aids programmes) as well as Nampak.

Rotary members will offer this event for the third year at 120 sites in Uganda, and at 100 sites in Lagos, Nigeria. A Rotary global grant in the amount of R1 016.04 is going toward supporting events in both countries. 

It is the vision of RFHA, Rotary leaders and other partners to expand the health event each year to other African countries.

 

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