By Ron Denham, Chair Emeritus of the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group (WASRAG) and member of the Rotary Club of Toronto Eglinton, Canada
Rotary International has long committed access to safe water and sanitation as one of our Areas of Focus. The reality is that the majority of healthcare facilities in developing countries do not have adequate access to soap, water and sanitation. These conditions impact two billion people worldwide at a time when handwashing is crucial to reducing the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Together, we can be a united voice, helping provide safe conditions for all staff and patients.
When the circumstances permit, reach out to your local healthcare facilities, the center of health in each of our communities. Are they able to maintain proper sanitation and handwashing? Ask if they have adequate quantities of soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies. Are they helping educate patients and the broader community about proper handwashing, which will be lifesaving during this pandemic?
Rotary and Rotaract clubs can work with health facility administrators and local officials to help meet needs and make a real difference. You can collaborate with entrepreneurs, small businesses, and microfinance initiatives in your communities to increase the supply of locally manufactured and distributed soap. We can support our healthcare facilities as distribution points for hygiene messaging and soap to surrounding communities, and help make sure that our friends and neighbors understand the importance of frequent handwashing with soap throughout their day. Consider selecting a COVID-19 lead within your club to respond to the immediate crisis. Interact members also have important roles to play and can engage their own COVID-19 leaders.
By reaching out, we have the opportunity to learn more about needs in our healthcare facilities and communities and how our clubs can assist now and in the future. It is going to take everyone working together to ramp down this pandemic in each of our communities and prevent future outbreaks.
Rotary members join together for truth, fairness, goodwill and friendship for the benefit of all. We have a unique opportunity to make a difference and unite our voices and visibility globally on behalf of health and healthcare everywhere.