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.
Levels of Prevention:
Primary prevention aims to prevent disease or injury before it ever occurs. This is done by preventing exposures to hazards that cause disease or injury, altering unhealthy or unsafe behaviors that can lead to disease or injury, and increasing resistance to disease or injury should exposure occur. Examples include:
legislation and enforcement to ban or control the use of hazardous products (e.g. asbestos) or to mandate safe and healthy practices (e.g. use of seatbelts and bike helmets).
education about healthy and safe habits (e.g. eating well, exercising regularly, not smoking).
immunization against infectious diseases.
Secondary prevention aims to reduce the impact of a disease or injury that has already occurred. This is done by detecting and treating disease or injury as soon as possible to halt or slow its progress, encouraging personal strategies to prevent reinjury or recurrence, and implementing programs to return people to their original health and function to prevent long-term problems. Examples include:
regular exams and screening tests to detect disease in its earliest stages (e.g. mammograms to detect breast cancer).
daily, low-dose aspirins and/or diet and exercise programs to prevent further heart attacks or strokes.
suitably modified work so injured or ill workers can return safely to their jobs.
Tertiary prevention aims to soften the impact of an ongoing illness or injury that has lasting effects. This is done by helping people manage long-term, often-complex health problems and injuries (e.g. chronic diseases, permanent impairments) in order to improve as much as possible their ability to function, their quality of life and their life expectancy. Examples include:
cardiac or stroke rehabilitation programs, chronic disease management programs (e.g. for diabetes, arthritis, depression, etc.).
support groups that allow members to share strategies for living well.
vocational rehabilitation programs to retrain workers for new jobs when they have recovered as much as possible.